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Running head: LOW INCOME STUDENTS OF COLOR

The College Experiences of Low Income Students of Color

Adriana Granados, Alyeska Gutierrez, Eric Klein, Cheyanne Ramon, Micaiah Satterwhite, and

Michelle Schwartz

California State University, Fullerton


LOW INCOME STUDENTS OF COLOR 2

Abstract

In this study, researchers conducted a qualitative investigation of the campus experiences of low

income students of color at California State University, Fullerton (CSUF). For the purposes of

this study, the researchers defined low income in the same manner as the Educational

Opportunity Program (EOP) at CSUF. Twelve study participants who are currently

undergraduate students attending CSUF agreed to engage in an in-depth interview with the

researchers in their effort to achieve a deeper understanding of the experiences for this rapidly

growing student population. The low income financial status of all interviewed students played a

major role in their educational experience, however it did not stop these students from actively

engaging and becoming involved with the CSUF campus. All students reported active campus

experiences and high levels of engagement during their college experience thus far. Overall,

researchers identified the research participants’ financial status, familial expectation, sense of

belonging on campus, cultural and self identity, and institutional support and interventions to be

major factors and contributors to the overall collegiate experience for the study participants.
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The College Experiences of Low Income Students of Color

Collegiate education is a momentous occasion for any student who decides to participate

in the endeavor, and time spent in college has the capacity to shape and mold students into future

world leaders that make a positive impact in our society. Every student’s experience is a fragile

and delicate phenomenon that must be properly nurtured and supported to ensure their success.

Unfortunately, some student populations do not receive the necessary support structures for

success. The intent of this study is to better understand the experiences of low income students

of color. Historically, this student population has experienced marginalization, exclusionary

practices, and lack of support. Many of these practices are still experienced by this group of

students who deserve better. This explains why this student population has been selected as the

center of this study. This study intends to answer the question of how low income students of

color experience the college campus and whether their personal identities impact this experience.

Review of the Literature

Financial Literacy

Financial issues are undoubtedly a top concern for students who coming from a lower

socioeconomic status than their peers and choose to pursue higher education. Research from a

study of low income New York High School students highlighted the complexity of the financial

aid process, and found that students often do not feel supported in the process. “However, those

students who formed relationships with trusted advisors or ‘literacy sponsors’ were more likely

to successfully complete the financial aid process and enroll in college” (Greenfield, 2015, p.

316). For these students, the cost of the institution is a primary factor in selecting which

institution to attend (Cox, 2016; Hollifield-Hoyle & Hammons, 2015). Drop-in available state

funding is an additional factor that affects institution selection (McGlynn, 2001). Additionally,
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Martin (2015) found that participants rarely spent money on anything outside of school and

living expenses and even experienced feelings of guilt when spending money on things outside

of those essential expenses. College students must weigh their options when it comes to

financial decisions, such as working to avoid student debt, but prolonging their college career, or

taking on the burden of debt to shorten their college career (Hollifield-Hoyle & Hammons, 2015;

McGlynn, 2001; Potter, 2017).

Financial Aid

The complicated financial aid process would serve students better if it were simplified.

According to “A Test of Leadership” (Spellings, 2006), the complicated nature of the Free

Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) proved to be insufficient in meeting the financial

needs of students. Furthermore, while the cost of college has increased over time, need-based

financial aid such as the Pell Grant has not kept pace with inflation (McGlynn, 2001; Potter,

2017; Spellings, 2006). While there has been a rise in merit-based scholarships, these financial

opportunities generally end up in the hands of those who do not have financial need (McGlynn,

2001; Potter, 2017). “For example, 90% of the Hope Scholarships have been awarded to

students who would have attended college without the aid” (Miksch, 2004, p. 79).

Davis, Nagel, Richards, and Awokoya (2013) found that the amount of financial aid

offered to a low income student greatly impacted their choice of which college to attend. Aries

and Seider (2005) found that many low income students felt a sense of powerlessness when it

came to their education. Many of the students "felt constrained by their financial need" (p. 430)

while others felt rendered socially powerless (Aries & Seider, 2005). Lack of financial aid can

cause low income students to view the expected return of college as low and make them less

likely to attend (Ness, & Tucker, 2008; Rouse, 2004). Additionally, students from a low
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socioeconomic background can face feelings of embarrassment, marginalization, depressive

symptoms, and stress due to their poverty (Gummadam, Pittman, & Ioffe, 2016; Hollifield-Hoyle

& Hammons, 2015). These students are forced to deal with many financial stressors, obligated

to harness immense amounts of fiscal responsibility, and must take on additional levels of stress

that students in higher economic levels may never understand.

Adjusting to College

The transition into college life can also be filled with challenges. However, those

challenges are higher for low income students of color (Swail, 2003). One overarching theme

cited by the surrounding literature argued that a sense of habitus dislocation occurs for this

population when a dissociation between the student’s home life and their new university life

begin to fester (Birani & Lehmann, 2013; Fischer, 2007; Oropeza, Varghese, & Kanno, 2010).

This disassociation has the capacity to create major pitfalls that students must avoid to persist

through the college experiences. According to Dukakis, Duong, Ruiz de Velasco, and Henderson

(2014), “college knowledge” (p. 4) helped in the transition process and raised completion rates

for low income students of color. Students identified lack of family support and cultural and

social capital as key deficits adding to the transition and adjustment issues students of color

experience (Birani & Lehmann, 2013; Oropeza et al., 2010). For students of color, retaining

connections with family and friends off-campus can interfere with the integration of campus life

(Fischer, 2007). However, Hurtado and Carter (1997) found that for “academically talented” (p.

328) full-time Latino college students, family relationships and their support were important in

transition and adjustment to college.

Pipeline Problems
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While more students of color are graduating from high school and going on to attend

college, there is still a gap for students of color who attend and complete their degree in

comparison to their white peers. For the Latino student college-going population, in particular,

numbers have grown significantly, but there is a persistent leak in the pipeline to their degree

attainment and completion (Hernandez & Lopez, 2004; Sethna, 2011). Despite the rise in

enrollment, these students “trail all other groups in earning undergraduate degrees” (Hernandez

& Lopez, 2004, p. 37). In “A Test of Leadership” (Spellings, 2006), the largest issues found in

the pipeline to higher education are highlighted as “inadequate preparation, lack of information

about college opportunities, and persistent financial barriers,” (p. 8) as well as the expectation

gap between what colleges require and what high schools produce. These issues are compounded

for students in poor and minority neighborhoods (Haveman & Smeeding, 2006) which creates

the need for remediation. This further perpetuates lack of access to higher education for already

marginalized communities. Unfortunately, issues of access for low income students of color are

not only visible at the high school level. According to Walpole (2008), “low [socioeconomic]

students’ aspirations for bachelor’s and master’s degrees are higher than their high

[socioeconomic] peers, [however] their aspirations for the more prestigious doctoral, medical,

and law degrees are lower” (p. 239). Efforts to increase access for low income students of color

should be made at every level of higher education in order to create permanent change.

Persistence

Regardless of the student population and the unique strengths and struggles they bring to

education, it is of utmost importance that any student continues to persevere and persist to

graduation. According to Gerardi (2006), satisfaction with a student’s college experience is a

major determinant for persistence and academic performance. Gerardi (2006) notes that a
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negative level of satisfaction with their experience can lead to a student dropping out or not

performing well academically. On the contrary, bridging capital can aid in students becoming

satisfied with their college experience and connecting to their college campus and community

(Ostrove & Long, 2007). Birani and Lehmann (2013) received participant statements that spoke

of students beginning to form relationships with their middle-class peers, romantic relations

outside of their personal identities, and participation in non-ethnic university experiences. These

forms of bridging capital helped students maintain their persistence and move into higher social

statuses as they built more bridging capital (Bergerson, 2007; Wilson, 2016). Swail’s Geometric

Model (2003) discusses the importance of the institution’s role in helping college students

succeed and persist to graduation. It is important that the institution be informed about the

qualities, capital, and attributes that students bring with them, and that the institution help

facilitate the experiences of all its students (Swail, 2003). Positive interactions on campus such

as personal relationships with faculty and staff contributed to persistence (McGlynn, 2001).

Johnson, Wasserman, Yilidirim, and Yonai (2013) also found students who reported high levels

of emotional health were more likely to graduate. However, it is important to note that financial

stress and negative campus climate can both negatively affect persistence attitudes of students of

color and their academic performance (Johnson et al., 2013; Suarez-Balcazar, Orellana-

Damacela, Portillo, Rowan, & Andrews-Guillen, 2003).

Campus Representation

Campus climate can have significant positive and negative effects on students’

experiences in college, both in academic and social aspects (Rankin & Reason, 2005; Swail,

2003). Representation serves as an important factor for students of color on the college campus.

When students face a minimally diverse campus environment, their classroom interactions have
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the potential to suffer, leading to poor academic and social experiences (Museus, 2008; Swail,

2003). For students of color, seeing their identity represented in the faculty, staff, and

administrators provided validation for their identity and community (Hernandez & Lopez, 2004;

Hurtado & Carter, 1997). In contrast, when underrepresented student populations were faced

with minimal staff and faculty representation, they were less likely to engage and seek out

assistance from faculty even when their academic performance was suffering, due to

misperceptions or student stereotypes (Museus, 2008). A lack of representation also means that

the holistic needs of students of color are not met because White staff and faculty tend to focus

on academic experiences, neglecting personal, familial, and cultural experiences (Luedke, 2017).

Sense of Belonging

College students who feel a sense of belonging to their campus have higher self-worth

and greater psychological adjustment to their new collegiate environment (Gummadam et al.,

2016). “This sense of belonging is more than specific relationships with individuals in the

school; it assesses the broader sense of feeling connected to the larger school community”

(Gummadam et al., 2016, p. 290). Nuñez (2009) stated that promoting an “intercultural campus”

(p. 27), where learning and sharing across cultures happens, helps counterbalance negative

experiences that students of color have on the campus. In a general sense, the phenomenon of

cultural mismatch can occur for some low income students who struggle to connect themselves

to institutions dominated by the majority culture (Birani & Lehmann, 2013; Schudde, 2016).

More specifically, low income students who work struggle more with having a sense of

belonging than students from a higher socioeconomic status because these additional

responsibilities limit their engagement on campus (Means & Pyne, 2017). For many students,

sense of belonging has been enhanced by institutional support through multicultural offices,
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learning communities, learning centers, faculty members, academic advising, student

organizations, and peers (Means & Pyne, 2017). Students may experience discrimination in

instances when this institutional support is not found, which can negatively affect their

integration and educational persistence and lead to feelings of intimidation, inadequacy, and

discomfort (Museus, 2008; Suarez-Balcazar et al., 2003). According to participants in a study by

Means and Pyne (2017), the faculty were the most important variable for participants’ sense of

belonging and resilience, providing positive attitudes, support, and access to opportunities.

Interventions

An institution can facilitate a positive college experience and help with retention of low

income students of color in many ways. Residence halls are a catalyst for increasing self-

confidence, engagement, and sense of belonging (Dukakis et al., 2014; Means & Pyne 2017). It

is important for institutional residence hall programs to provide free or low cost programs and

activities on a regular basis so that low income student residents can engage in their on-campus

residence life and feel a part of campus (Schudde, 2016). Targeted programming and resources

such as mentoring, advising, Summer Bridge, first-year orientation, the Educational Opportunity

Program, and cultural centers serve to help specific student populations with persistence

(Corrigan, 2003; Dukakis et al., 2014; Morales, 2014; Potter, 2017).

Students of low income and different racial and ethnic backgrounds benefit from faculty

engagement. Faculty who are proactive and facilitate classroom discussions and engaging

assignments assist in building students’ self-efficacy and retention (Blackwell & Pinder 2014;

Dukakis et al., 2014; Morales, 2014). Faculty can achieve this by incorporating real world

examples, linking the curriculum to workforce training, focusing on the strengths of students,

encouraging, and referring students to resources on campus (Morales, 2014). Faculty and
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educators even have the capacity to create stronger familial ties and act in a parental or friend

role for low income students who do not possess those family connections from earlier in life

(Hollifield-Hoyle & Hammons, 2015).

Parent and Family Involvement

Students experience a multitude of external factors that can limit or enhance their

collegiate experience including parent and family involvement and encouragement. Research

has indicated that parental support is one of the most important indicators of students’

educational aspirations (Allen & Engberg, 2011; Holcomb-McCoy, 2010). Research behind the

added benefits of parent involvement usually clusters students into family profiles. The profiles

are predicated on the socioeconomic, educational, and support levels of the parents and family.

Robertson and Reynolds (2010) noted “in general, children who had family profiles with higher

levels of human capital resources, more favorable scores on indicators of parent practices toward

children's schooling and family functioning were more likely than other children to have higher

levels of educational attainment” (p. 1077).

While research indicates the benefit of parental involvement, many parents do not get

involved due to an array of hindrances. Parents whose children attend urban schools face

language barriers, a cultural disconnection between schools and communities, a lack of

welcoming environment, and the lack of opportunities to become involved (St. John, Rowley, &

Hu, 2009). Furthermore, Birani and Lehmann (2013) found that many of their participants spoke

of strong familial ties that pushed them forward through the struggles of college. Not only do

these students find support in their families, but some speak of their families as being a reminder

and motivator for their persistence. Some students revealed finishing their university studies as
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an important duty they were held responsible for by their families. It was not just an option to

finish college, but a requirement (Oropeza et al., 2010).

Cultural Capital

Many students from low-economic backgrounds come into college without the cultural

capital that many students from high-economic statuses possess (Aries & Seider, 2005; Birani &

Lehmann, 2013). However, Yosso (2005) reframed this type of deficit mentality using Critical

Race Theory to show that people of color bring in community cultural wealth through “6 forms

of capital such as aspirational, navigational, social, linguistic, familial, and resistant capital” (p.

77). Aspirational capital is interwoven throughout many stories of the low income student of

color as higher education is seen as a way to escape their low socioeconomic status and duty to

their families (Oropeza et al., 2010). Using this framework, students from these communities

bring various forms of cultural wealth that can be used to help them in their collegiate

experience. These additional forms of capital can be extended to bridging, bonding, and ethnic

capital as students bring their diverse experiences, allowing for cultural connections to be made

and movement into newer social networks (Birani & Lehmann, 2013). Not only do these

cultural capitals help the student succeed, they also allow the institution to become more

culturally integrated, allowing the student to adhere in a stronger fashion to the institution (Birani

& Lehmann, 2013). Additionally, Museus and Neville (2012) found that when students

connected with faculty they “enabled them to connect racial minority students with important

information and support” (p. 43).

Methodology

The purpose of this study is to gain a better understanding of the individual experiences

of low income undergraduate students of color at CSUF. This qualitative study was designed by
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the researchers and approved by the Institutional Review Board at CSUF. An interview protocol

was created by the researchers with the goal of learning more about the participant’s transition to

college, how their financial situation has impacted their college experience, their engagement

during college, and their motivations for attending college (Appendix B).

Although the review of related literature supports the notion that low income students of

color are a substantial portion of the collegiate student population, an effective outreach plan was

imperative to ensure quality research participants were obtained for this study. In order to reach

the target population of low income undergraduate students of color who were willing to share

their experiences through an interview, the researchers contacted each cultural and diversity

center on the CSUF campus. The researchers also contacted the CSUF EOP office, and other

various student affairs offices, in hopes of finding study participants.

Once study participants were obtained, each researcher scheduled time with the study

participants to sit down for a semi-structured qualitative interview discussing their collegiate

experiences in relation to their personal identity as a low income student of color. Each study

participant was asked to select an alias, so their real names were not used for this study. After all

participant interviews were complete, half of the interviews were transcribed while copious notes

were taken during and after for the other half of interviews. Once transcriptions and note

compilation were complete, themes emerged and were identified to uncover commonalities

woven throughout all study participants. The five themes that emerged are: financial impact,

family, culture and self identity, sense of belonging, and institutional support and interventions.

Results

Our research group interviewed twelve self-identified low income undergraduate students

of color. Twenty-five percent (3 of 13) of the participants identified as male, while 75 percent (9
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of 12) identified as female. Fifty percent (6 of 12) of the participants were in the age range of

18-20, while the other 50 percent (6 of 12) were the 21-23 age range. None of our participants

were over the age of 23. Eight of the 12 students (66%) enrolled into CSUF directly out of high

school, while four of the students (33%) self-identified as transfer students to CSUF. The

amount of time each of the students have been students at CSUF did vary. One student (9%) is

new to CSUF, having only been attending CSUF for less than one year. Three students (25%)

have been attending CSUF for 1-2 years. Six students (50%) have been attending CSUF for 2-3

years, and two students (16%) have been attending CSUF for four or more years. Additionally,

10 of 12 students (83%) indicated that they commute to campus, while two (16%) indicated that

they live on campus.

Financial Impact

Of the twelve low income students of color that we interviewed, 100 percent (12 of 12) of

the students stated that they receive financial aid and work at least a part-time job in order to

support themselves during college. Furthermore, 100 percent (12 of 12) of the students indicated

that their financial situation of being of low income status has impacted their college experience

in some way. Hannah stated:

I don’t think I would have been [able to] afford to go to a four year college without the

financial aid and especially opportunities to get involved on campus because some

organizations require a membership fee, so utilizing my financial aid to get more

involved helps.

Roman also highlighted how his financial situation has impacted his choices throughout college,

“I feel like I have not done the traditional college life because of financial stuff and I knew that

coming in here.” Four of the twelve (33%) participants stated that one of their main motivators
LOW INCOME STUDENTS OF COLOR 14

for attending college was to get out of poverty, and 66 percent of students (8 of 12) cited a

specific career goal as one of their motivators for attending college. Jason spoke about the

importance of securing a college degree for his future career goals and stability in the workforce,

“I have a degree I have a valuable skill to contribute. It won't be that easy to be replaced.”

Family

Sixty-six percent (8 of 12) of the students we interviewed indicated that they do face

obstacles outside of financial struggles. The same amount (8 of 12) of students indicated their

family as one of their main motivators for attending college. Jason highlighted specifically why

family is one of his main motivators for attending college: “I do have a family that immigrated

from Mexico… They came from nothing… So I want that stability because I know what it's like

to feel that second hand, of course.” Additionally, Roman spoke about how his mother has

played a role in motivating him through college: “She has encouraged me to continuously grow

myself and improve myself professionally and personally.” Ana spoke about the challenge of

being a first-generation college student within her family, “My parents, they didn't go to

college... as much as they want to help me, they can’t.”

Culture and Self Identity

Sixty-six percent of participants identified as Hispanic or Latinx (8 of 12), 16 percent (2

of 12) identified as African American or Black, 8 percent (1 of 12) identified as Asian, and 8

percent (1 of 12) identified as half Hispanic and half Asian. Eight of 11 students (66%) stated

that they felt their personal identities do play a role in their college experience, while two

students (16%) said their identities do not affect their college experience. One student of 12 did

not provide an answer to the question. Furthermore, 16 percent (2 of 12) of our surveyed

population cited combating racial, ethnic, or gender stigma as one of their main motivators for
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attending college. Jason highlighted the importance of breaking stigma by going to college, “I

feel like I am in a position where I'm responsible to prove that wrong and make something good

in this [low-income Latino male] image that I'm holding.”

Sense of Belonging

Each of the participants were asked if they felt their personally identities were

represented on the CSUF campus. One participant did not answer the question. For the 11 who

did respond, 66 percent (8 of 11) did state that they do feel their personal identities are

represented on campus. Carmen shared how the representation of just one faculty member in her

major has helped her feel represented and valid in her struggles:

In my major there’s only one professor that I know – she’s only half Mexican – but that

still helps a lot, because she sees a lot of the cultural things that hold me back, and I was

actually talking to her yesterday about grad school and what I was afraid of, and she went

through the same kind of fears, so she definitely encouraged me to pursue it.

One student (8%) indicated that they sometimes feel their personal identities are represented on

campus. Sarah felt that because she is mixed race, that her specific identities were not

represented, “Even though my culture is represented, my experiences within my culture are not

represented.” Two students (16%) indicated that they do not feel their personal identities are

represented on the CSUF campus. Roman spoke about how he navigates a campus where he

feels his identities are not well represented, “Looking into what certain group I want to associate

with I have to know if there is going to be representation there. Is there going to be an open

door? Am I going to be looked at differently?” Furthermore, Clarissa shared, “It was really hard

to find people that looked like me or that shared my culture. It was a bit intimidating. I would

just go to school, drive back home, go to school, go back home.”


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Institutional Support and Interventions

One hundred percent (12 of 12) of the students interviewed stated that they are involved

with activities outside of the classroom at CSUF. All of the students that we interviewed had

utilized at least one of CSUF’s available campus resources. Fifty-eight percent (7 of 12) students

indicated that they have used 4-5 campus resources, while 33 percent (4 of 12) indicated they

have used 1-3 campus resources. One student (8%) indicated they have used six or more campus

resources. Jason shared why he felt the need to be involved outside of the classroom: “My first

semester I was involved with… four organizations. That helped me figure out what I wanted to

spend my time in. Because of that, I feel like I have developed more personally and

professionally through my extra-curricular activities.” Talking specifically about the cultural

centers on campus Sarah stated, “It was a space where people have really hard conversations and

I didn’t get that a lot in my classrooms and it was a place where people understood how I felt

being a person of color and mixed identity.”

Discussion

Financial Impact

Each of our participants were eligible for and received financial aid, however the aid was

not always enough to cover additional expenses such as textbooks, food, living away from home,

and transportation. Similar to the literature, our participants noted that the FAFSA was hard to

navigate, but those who participated in pre-college programs, such as the Advancement Via

Individual Determination (AVID) program, received assistance in this process (Frempong, Ma, &

Mensah, 2012). Carmen stated, “I really depended on the AVID program at my high school to

walk me through everything.” Congruent with the literature, financial issues have an impact on

how low-income students of color experience college. With the costs of college tuition
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increasing, aid packages are not covering the complete cost of college and needs-based aid has

yet to increase with inflation (McGlynn, 2001). As shown in the research and by responses from

our participants, inadequate financial aid packages cause students from low-income backgrounds

to seek employment while they remain enrolled in part- to full-time coursework.

Family

For many of our research participants, family is a major source of motivation and support

while navigating their college experience. Even though some families may not have the

collegiate experience necessary to fully relate to their students, many of which are first-

generation college students, families provide a source of understanding and nurturing which

pushed many research participants further in their education. Conversely, at times families were

an obstacle in a student’s education. Participants spoke of their families relying on them for

financial support and leadership within the family. As students begin to establish themselves and

embrace their education, the families who raised them can begin to desire the same type of

support they previously gave their student. Families are a major piece of any student’s makeup,

regardless of the student seeing their familial ties as positively or negatively affecting their

educational experience. It is imperative for the sentiments any students has for their family to be

identified and processed through with student affairs practitioners to ensure the needs of the

student are addressed and handled in a delicate, respectable manner.

Sense of Belonging

The literature stated that low income students who work a job during college struggle to

feel a sense of belonging due to their additional responsibilities which limit their engagement on

campus. However, all of our participants were involved in co-curricular activities and used one

or more campus resources. While our participants did find a sense of community, for some it
LOW INCOME STUDENTS OF COLOR 18

came easier than others. One of the students interviewed stated that she didn’t feel a sense of

belonging until she moved onto campus. She stated she never would have become involved or

had the friends she did because commuting had taken too much of her time. The support of on

campus resource centers and student organizations contributed to their sense of belonging, but

there was a need for intentional outreach.

Culture and Self Identity

Ensuring that students feel represented on this campus was a theme that arose in many

interviews. Some students felt as if they were not represented. Diversifying the faculty and

staff and changing the culture of the university to a more welcoming campus culture can create a

better environment for these students to grow and develop (Museus & Jayakumar, 2012). A few

students stated that they became involved on campus because of the fact that there were diversity

initiatives, which made them feel comfortable in a location on campus. Requesting that these

spaces take into consideration the intersectionality of their students’ identities can add to the

development of a more welcoming environment on campus. Ensuring that these centers get

funded and have a space on campus is crucial for students to feel supported.

Institutional Support and Interventions

All of our participants work at least part-time while enrolled in college. Kezar, Walpole,

and Perna (2015) state that time is a luxury afforded to the wealthy, and for low-income students

time is essential because they have to work and go school. Many low-income students are

focused on ensuring that their basic needs are being met. Roman stated that he was a part of

Titan Bites, a program that notifies students where there is free food on the CSUF campus. He

said ensuring he had food every day was something he constantly thought about. Continuing

practices that meet student’s basic needs can help them stress less and become more engaged.
LOW INCOME STUDENTS OF COLOR 19

Lastly, supporting and funding programs such as AVID, Upward Bound, and the Educational

Opportunity Program (EOP) can ensure that there is help for these students to have access to

postsecondary education, transition once they are on campus, and persist once they are enrolled.

Implications and Recommendations for Future Practice

Many of the participants stated that they would not be able to attend the university if they

did not receive financial aid. The FAFSA website should be made easier to navigate, so that

students can easily apply for financial aid. More funding, in the form of grants, should be made

available for low income students so they are not burdened with a high amount of student loans.

The office of financial aid should host workshops to inform this population of all available aid

options. Comprehensive academic counseling should be offered to these students so they learn

how to navigate the university, are offered life skills, and know about financial aid. Some

students spoke of the university learning curve that is necessary to succeed in higher education. It

is the duty of all institutions to not assume all incoming students are aware of university

terminology and the vernacular of the specific institution. For example, counseling sessions

should include introductory lessons on these topics and the respective vocabulary.

Researchers who have focused on low income students and students of color have

provided many recommendations for future practice. Overall, research has indicated that more

comprehensive support should be provided to low income students to improve their sense of

belonging on campus (Means & Pyne, 2017; Museus & Neville, 2012). These support strategies

should be institution-wide and broadly based, from professional development for faculty in

cultural competence and awareness to the integration of equity and social justice in curriculum

and strategic plans (Cabrera, Nora, Terenzini, Pascarella, & Hagedorn, 1999; Means & Pyne,

2017). Traditionally, research has seen students from certain races or classes as disadvantaged
LOW INCOME STUDENTS OF COLOR 20

due to the background they come from (Yosso, 2005). However, instead of taking this deficit-

focused mindset, research should make strides in taking equity-minded approaches to showcase

the many positive traits of low income students of color and provide them the opportunities to

contribute these to their learning community.

Limitations and Suggestions for Further Research

A number of limitations were discovered during this qualitative research study. First, the

participants had to self-identify as low income financial status, and although the consent form

stated the low income eligibility, the participants were not required to verify their low income

status in order to participate. A further limitation was the difficulty in finding participants who

were willing to identify themselves as low income status. Another limitation was that each of the

participants (100%) identified as a traditional age college student aged 18-23, while there are

many low income undergraduate students of color aged 24 years and older. Additionally, the

majority (75%) of the participants were female, and the majority (66%) of participants identified

as Hispanic or Latinx. Although the researchers all used the same interview protocol, each of the

six researchers has an individual interview style. The length of the interviews was also found to

be a limitation. This may have been due to some interviews not being conducted by a researcher

who was the same gender as the interview participant. One researcher found the opposite gender

experience to be an obstacle in the comfort level of the interview participant.

The literature on low income students of color also has limitations. First, the definition

of low income can vary. Depending on the area in which the research is being conducted,

income levels and costs of living can vary drastically, which in turn can change the definition of

low income. Low income status in an affluent area may be considered middle-class income in

less affluent areas. The location in which the research was conducted has the potential to skew
LOW INCOME STUDENTS OF COLOR 21

data results. Second, students of color may experience college in different ways depending on

their background. Much of the literature focused on one identity of a student or grouped all

students of color together. The intersectionality of the student was often not discussed in the

research.

Further research should include interviewing students of color that identify from a variety

of racial and ethnic backgrounds, campuses, and geographic locations. Our research was limited

by looking solely at the financial piece of the identities of students of color and its impact on

students’ collegiate experiences, however there is much more that is involved with the

intersectionality of this student population. Student motivation was a major piece of the research

interviews, which was woven through all facets of the research themes. Future research could

take a further look into the motivations this student population has to uncover what motivators

significantly impact student success. Even if significant impact is not uncovered in the research,

simple identification of motivators allows for institutional and practitioners to propose ways to

support and nurture the motivating factors for students.

Conclusion

It is essential for this student population to be acknowledged and fully supported by all

collegiate institutions. These students bring many experiences and diverse perspectives to any

campus and, as a result, the institution itself has the opportunity to gain immense enrichment

from this diverse student population. From a practitioner standpoint, student affairs

professionals must always stay mindful of how their institution is influencing these students.

Although an institution may believe that it is well versed in diversity and in understanding these

students’ struggles, many campuses may be ignorant of their Eurocentric mindset deeply

ingrained in their history and mission. They may also be unaware of the genuine setbacks these
LOW INCOME STUDENTS OF COLOR 22

sentiments cause for low income students of color. Overall, it is the hope of any campus for all

of their students to succeed. With that in mind, focus must always be placed on the ways in

which low income students of color are being motivated and supported.
LOW INCOME STUDENTS OF COLOR 23

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LOW INCOME STUDENTS OF COLOR 29

Appendix A

California State University Fullerton Research Study Consent Form

Study Title: Experiences of low income Students of Color HSR-17-18-203

Researchers:
Adriana Granados Educational Leadership abgranados@csu.fullerton.edu
Alyeska Gutierrez Educational Leadership alyeskanoel@csu.fullerton.edu
Cheyanne Ramon Educational Leadership cramon@csu.fullerton.edu
Eric Klein Educational Leadership eklein@csu.fullerton.edu
Micaiah Satterwhite Educational Leadership msatter@csu.fullerton.edu
Michelle Schwartz Educational Leadership mschwartz@fullerton.edu
Meri Beckham, faculty Educational Leadership mbeckham@fullerton.edu

You are being asked to take part in a research study carried out by Adriana Granados, Alyeska
Gutierrez, Cheyanne Ramon, Eric Klein, Micaiah Satterwhite, Michelle Schwartz, and Meri
Beckham. We are graduate students in the California State University, Fullerton (CSUF) Master
of Science in Higher Education Program, and Dr. Beckham is our faculty advisor. This consent
form explains the research study and your part in it if you decide to join the study. Please read
the form carefully, taking as much time as you need. Ask the researcher to explain anything you
don’t understand. You can decide not to join the study. If you join the study, you can change
your mind later or quit at any time. There will be no penalty or loss of services or benefits if you
decide to not take part in the study or quit later.

What is this study about?


This research study is being conducted to achieve a better understanding of the experiences of
low income students of color. We are defining “low income” in the same way the EOP office at
CSUF defines low income through the chart shown below. You are being asked to take part in
this study because you identify with this student population. Participating in the study will take
about 60 to 90 minutes. You cannot take part in this study if you are under 18 years of age.
LOW INCOME STUDENTS OF COLOR 30

What will I be asked to do if I am in this study?


If you take part in the study, you will be asked to review and sign this consent form, and then
participate in a face-to-face, 60-90 minute interview that will be audio-recorded with your
permission. If you choose not to be recorded, notes will be taken during the interview.
The interview questions will be about your individual experiences as a low income student of
color at CSUF. You will be asked to share your perspectives on college life, and how your
personal identities have shaped your experiences and transition into higher education as a low
income student of color. During the interview, you do not have to answer any questions that
make you uncomfortable. If you choose not to answer, there will be no consequence and you
will still remain a part of the study. The results of the study will be available to you on request.

Are there any benefits to me if I am in this study?


There is no direct benefit to you from being in this study, but your participation will contribute to
our knowledge and understanding of the perspectives of low income students of color at CSUF
and this may help others in the future.

Are there any risks to me if I am in this study?


The potential risk from taking part in this study is that you may experience distress or discomfort
as you remember and talk about your experiences in college. If you should experience emotional
distress, please be aware that you may contact your campus-based counseling services or a
mental health clinic in your local community.

Will my information be kept anonymous or confidential?


The data for this study will be kept confidential to the extent allowed by law. A pseudonym will
be used in place of your name in the documents associated with this study. No published results
will identify you, and your name will not be associated with the findings. Under certain
circumstances, information that identifies you may be released for internal and external review of
this project.
Please note that several of the researchers are mandated reporters. All California State
University employees who are identified as Limited and General Reporters are mandated
LOW INCOME STUDENTS OF COLOR 31

reporters under California’s Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act ("CANRA"). Whenever
such an identified CSU employee, in his/her professional capacity or within the scope of his/her
employment or research activities, has knowledge of or observes a person under the age of 18
years whom the employee knows, or reasonably suspects, to have been the victim of child abuse
or neglect, the employee must report the incident to the appropriate authorities.
The data for this study, including audio recordings, will be kept on password-protected
computers and in secure cloud storage. All researchers listed at the top of this Consent Form will
have access to the study data.
The results of this study may be published or presented at professional meetings, but the
identities of all research participants will remain confidential.
The data for this study will be kept for at least three years and indefinitely thereafter, for future
educational use, presentations, and publications. Data will be kept to ensure the accuracy of
future analysis.

Are there any costs or payments for being in this study?


There will be no costs to you for taking part in this study. You will not receive money or any
other form of incentive for taking part in this study.

Who can I talk to if I have questions?


If you have questions about this study or the information in this form, please contact and of the
group members at MSHEgraduatestudy@gmail.com. If you have questions about your rights as a
research participant, or would like to report a concern or complaint about this study, please
contact my faculty advisor, Dr. Meri Beckham, at mbeckham@fullerton.edu or 657-278-8059.
You may also contact the CSUF Institutional Review Board at irb@fullerton.edu or (657) 278-
7719.

What are my rights as a research study volunteer?


Your participation in this research study is completely voluntary. You may choose not to be a
part of this study. There will be no penalty to you if you choose not to take part. You may
choose not to answer specific questions or to stop participating at any time.

What does my signature on this consent form mean?


Your signature on this form means that:
● You understand the information given to you in this form
● You have been able to ask the researcher questions and state any concerns
● The researcher has responded to your questions and concerns
● You believe you understand the research study and the potential benefits and risks
involved
Statement of Consent
I have carefully read and/or I have had the terms used in this consent form and their significance
explained to me. By signing below, I agree that I am at least 18 years of age and agree to
participate in this project. I have been given a copy of this signed and dated consent form.

Name of Participant (please print) _________________________________

Signature of Participant ________________________ Date _______________


LOW INCOME STUDENTS OF COLOR 32

Signature of Investigator ________________________ Date _______________

Your signature below indicates that you are giving permission to audio record your responses.

Signature of Participant ____________________________ Date _______________


LOW INCOME STUDENTS OF COLOR 33

Appendix B

Interview Protocol: Experiences of Low Income Students of Color

Research Question: What is the college experience of low income Students of Color?

We are defining “low income” in the same way the EOP office at CSUF defines low income
through the chart shown below.

Demographic Information

1. What are your gender pronouns?

2. How old are you?

3. What race(s)/ethnicity(ies) do you identify with?

4. How many years or semesters have you been attending CSUF?

Interview Questions

1. What have been your living arrangements while a student at CSUF?


a. Do you commute?

2. Have you been employed full-time or part-time while in college?


a. If yes, what were your reasons for seeking employment?

3. Do you or did you receive financial aid? If yes, how has this financial support changed
over time?
LOW INCOME STUDENTS OF COLOR 34

4. Do you feel your financial situation has had any impact on your college experience? If
so, please describe the impact.

5. Please describe your college transition to CSUF. Did you enroll following high school
graduation, transfer from a community college, or take some time off from schooling?

6. How would you describe your experience at CSUF thus far, including academics and
extracurricular activities?

7. What campus resources have you used, if any?

8. Are there programs here at CSUF that you feel best serve your needs? If so, please
describe.

9. Have you been involved in campus events or activities outside of the classroom? How?
a. If you have not been involved, what has stopped you?

10. Do you feel your identities are represented on campus? Why or why not?

11. Do you believe your personal identities have played a role in your overall college
experience?

12. Are there obstacles, outside of financial issues, related to your education? If so, please
describe.

13. If you could create your own program here on campus to serve the needs of low income
students of color, what would that program look like?

14. What are your leading motivators for pursuing higher education?
a. Do you consider more income? Or cultural expectations?

15. Wrap up question: What else do you feel it is important for me to know about you or your
experience at CSUF?
LOW INCOME STUDENTS OF COLOR 35

Appendix C

Interview Transcription - Adriana Granados

S1: Adriana (Interviewer) and S2: Jason (Alias, Interviewee)

Coding System:
 Financial Impact 🔺🔺
o Importance of FAFSA
o Commute - bus, walking, riding with others
o Lack of involvement in certain hours due to commuting late (gender)
o Motivations – get out of poverty
 Parent/Family Involvement ⧪ ⧪
o Parents struggle, rely on child for financial and emotional support
o First generation; lack of support, understanding
 Sense of belonging ⏫ ⏫
o Representation in posters, events
o Organizations - for social, academic, and cultural support
 Importance of Culture / Self Identity ⤪
o Need to break negative stereotype from others due to culture and gender and SES
o Resourcefulness; responsibility for financial aid on student**

S1: So it shouldn't be too bad and again, you can answer as much as you're comfortable. If you're
not comfortable sharing then that's OK. I think it should be up to an hour, but even the other one
only went like 30 minutes. So it's as much as you want to share and I'll be jotting down some
notes. So, what are your gender pronouns?
S2: What do you mean?
S1: What do you prefer? Do you prefer she, her, hers, he, him, his or they, them, theirs?
S2: I prefer the second one.
S1: He, him, his?
S2: Yeah, I'm not too familiar with the other ones.
S1: He, him, his, it's what you prefer, right?
S2: Yeah.
S1: How old are you? I'm twenty three.
S2: Twenty three. And then do you mind sharing what race or ethnicity do you identify as?
S1: I'm Hispanic.
S1: OK. And how many years or semesters have you been at cal State Fullerton?
S2: This is going to be my third year.
S1: Your third year? OK. What have been your living arrangements while you've been a student
at Cal State Fullerton?
S2: When I transferred over here, I was able to find an apartment. Two blocks... No, it wasn't, it
was a family home two blocks away from here and they were renting out their room, but it was a
little on the higher end of the price margin. 🔺🔺So I continued looking and I found an apartment.
Also close to campus, which the rent was like relatively cheap. And so I, I moved over there and
I've been there ever since. I've been living there. It's going to be three years in June.
LOW INCOME STUDENTS OF COLOR 36

S1: OK. So you transferred here, right? You went to a family house where you rented a room. So
that one was a little bit more expensive. So you kept looking and you found an apartment close
to campus and you've been there for like three years and so from your apartment or even when
you were living in that room, you commuted to campus?
S2: Um, no, I usually just walk.
S1: OK. So it's that close that you can walk. Has that been the only mode of transportation that
you've...This can be even beyond to the whole time that you've been a student. Um, how have
you...like, you've commuted by biking and walking?
S2: Well, I have...in my CC, I would sometimes take the bus or I will just drive myself or get a
ride. 🔺🔺
S1: Okay, How was that?
S2: The bus was painful because my, my time landed at the layover time... I would get there as
soon as the bus driver would park by the trailer and would take their 30 minute break. 🔺🔺
S1: Oh. So you were never like sure of what time you were gonna...okay...
S2: Like my 15 minute commute with sometimes take over an hour.
S1: That's really tough. But so since you've been here you walk to campus and it's relatively
easy. How far is your walk?
S2: It's not too bad, it's like a 15 minute walk. Sometimes I bring my bike over here.
S1: Yeah.
S1: OK. And so have you ever, while you've been a college student, right? Have you been
employed full time or part time?
S2: Full- time. Just in the summers.
S1: OK. Do you mind me asking like what you were doing?
S2: The first couple years I was working at a manufacturing warehouse where we manufactured
furniture pieces and, but then living over here, I also worked at a warehouse where what my task
was to pick orders and my...this just past previous summer I also worked in the warehouse, uh,
dealing with the electric components and I also was an ra for the summer. 🔺🔺
S1: Were you an RA on campus? OK.
S2: Yes.
S1: Yeah? And then during the school year then I'm assuming you've worked part time jobs, so
you only have worked during the summer.
S2: Yes
S1: So let me ask you, what were your reasons for looking for a job? Even if it's only during the
summer?
S2: “Well, for the summer...because the way I deal with my finances is to accumulate as much as
I can and then when I don't have to, I just stretch that as far as I can so that I can focus on my
studies. So by the time summer comes around, I'm near the end of my savings to so that's when I
have to accumulate again. 🔺🔺
S1: So you've learned to like to work during the summer so that you can afford...Was there ever a
summer that you didn't work and you've struggled during the school year or how did you like
learn that this was what worked for you?
S2: It was just the first summer out of high school and that first academic year...with what I got
with financial aid and the little I was able to use to buy like a beater car.... my checkings account
just went down to like $20....that first academic year was pretty tough financially. But then that's
when I started looking into um, what resources like helped me out with that. And so I found
various on campus. 🔺🔺
LOW INCOME STUDENTS OF COLOR 37

S1: OK. I guess this kinda leads into the next question. Did you or do you receive financial aid?
S2: Yes.
S1: And has it, um, again, only sharing what you're comfortable with, has it always been the
same or has it changed over the years?
S2: It changed when I transferred over here because at my [community college] I was involved
with the program on their campus which gave me a $500 voucher for the bookstore every
semester. So that kinda helped... But once I transferred over here, I had to re-adjust to figure out
how to pay for books. 🔺🔺
S1: So has it always been enough financial aid to cover your school stuff or like you're saying
now you still have to figure out the books but the majority has been financial aid or you have to
pay that out of pocket?
S2: The financial aid covers like my actual academic costs, which I like to include that my
textbook, my access codes. Um… 🔺🔺
S1: Yeah, on campus while you're here. But so af, like beyond that it doesn't afford you like
living on campus. Right?
S2: No, yeah.
S1: It doesn't afford you these other things?
S2: Yeah that just relies on myself to do that. 🔺🔺
S1: Do you feel like your financial situations have had any impact on your college experience?
S2: Yes and no. Like I said, I like to focus my summers by working as much as I can in order to
focus on my academics during the year. So I feel like that has been beneficial, but at the same
time, because I don't have an incoming cash flow for the academic year, I just feel that I have to
be...not stingy, but careful with my money which affects my social life here on campus. 🔺🔺
S1: In what ways?
S2: I just have to see which thing I want to give up.
S1: So you're saying like, because you have to be careful with how much you spend. Sometimes
you can't do everything like in clubs and activities that you want to do.
S2: Yeah.
S1: OK. And so I know that you've talked a little bit about being a transfer student. Do you mind
describing your college transition? Did you enroll following high school graduation? Did you
transfer from a community community college or did you take some time off from school? Like
what has been your journey?
S2: From high school. I started my, uh, going into my college career at Citrus College and once I
completed my transfer there I came over here. Um, the transition itself was, I want to say a bit
more difficult because um, while I was on the CC I was living at home with my parents, so my
expenses were relatively low ⏫ ⏫
S1: Yeah.
S2: So once I transferred here I decided that I want to be as close to campus to be involved as
much as I can. So it was just a big shock financial aid because then I had to pay for all the little
things that we don't take into effect [when we live with our parents].
S1: Do you. So now that you have like transitioned, it's been over three years, right? Do you feel
like you have a better handle on like your finances and you are OK now?
S2: Actually, my first semester as a college I took personal finance.
S1: OK. And right, because you're a finance major. Yes. And so I feel like that has helped me out
a lot. Did it take a long time to get over that initial shock?
S2: Not necessarily like I walked in expecting that, so I feel like that helped me out a little.
LOW INCOME STUDENTS OF COLOR 38

S1: Like you were ready for it?


S2: Like I was able to prepare for it beforehand
S1: Working out like the budgets and what it would look like financially. OK, awesome. How
would you describe your experience at cal State Fullerton? Including academics and
extracurriculars?
S2: Through academics. I have, I have learned a lot, um, practical and conceptual skills which I
feel have prepared me post graduation. It's also prepared me well enough for me to land on a
career after college. And what was the second part of the question?
S1: And so that's the academics, right? Can you describe your extracurricular experiences on
campus?
S2: “Extracurriculars...as soon as I transferred over here, I told myself I wanted to be more
involved and I made that effort….And my first semester I was involved with, I want to say, four
organizations. That helped me figure out what I wanted to spend my time in. Because of that,
like I, I feel like I have developed more personally and professionally through my extra-
curricular activities”
S1: Can I ask you what those four organizations were?
S2: The first year was, it was an adventure club, which was a recreational club. And I also joined
the Finance Association and the other one...the Latino Business Student Association...
S1: Yeah.
S2: And the Orange County Hispanic Chamber of commerce.
S1: OK. And so are you still involved with those right now?
S2: I'm just with two of them...
S1: Two of....Which ones?
S2: It's LBSA and the Chambers.
S1: OK. Why did you decide to do those? And not the others?
S2: With these, I feel like I was able to benefit more from those versus the other ones where
there was just more... like I could...I already applied those skills myself. ⏫ ⏫
S1: You didn't feel like you were learning as much?
S2: Yeah
S1: And then, I'm sure with the time management and all of that?
S2: And with the recreational, I felt like I was able to pass that aspect into the other club.
S1: Explain that a little bit.
S2: So like say with like adventure club... Like my main focus with that was to make for friends
and to go out and do of social things and with being part of the other clubs, I was able to get that
through that organization
S1: Making the friends and having the social component? Yeah, that makes sense.
S2: I felt with the other clubs I related more since we were all business majors.
S1: That makes sense. OK.
S2: But it also had it's drawback because with the other one, like it's people with different
backgrounds, which I feel like I could benefit off of too... But at the same time I more dependent
on this one because I'm like, I, I needed that.
S1: OK, very good. And so, um, what campus resources have you used? So outside of or like
your clubs? Right? and organizations... So the, the services, whether it's financial aid, the health
services, any of the offices that are there for students...what have you used before?
LOW INCOME STUDENTS OF COLOR 39

S2: I've utilized the career center, the health center and um, at the CDC I was involved with the
EOPS program and um....I don't think I've visited the tutoring center so I want to say just those
things.
S1: And so those programs, which ones did you find were most like beneficial or helpful to you?
S2: At the time with the EOPS? I was able to get priority registration and the voucher, for the
textbooks, so I feel like that one benefited me a lot. 🔺🔺
S1: So this was at your cc? Huh? So they gave you, you said you had the $500 for books and
with EOPS you had a voucher for books, so you really liked, didn't have to worry about like the
book part. Right?.
S2: Mhm.
S1: When you came here, are there any other programs that you found that were similar to that?
S2: I am aware that they have that program here as well.
S1: Oh, they do?
S2: You don't get the same benefits and I really did try like to see what we can use to subsidize
my textbooks, but unfortunately I just wasn't able to find anyone.
S1: Yeah. And so are there certain programs here that you feel really do help serve your needs?
Whether it's as a Latino male, right? Or as a low income student. Do you feel like there's
programs that can help you?
S2: Yeah, of course. There's um, there's um, after the CRC. ⏫ ⏫ ⤪
S1: OK. Do you go?
S2: No...
S1: Why?
S2: I'm, I just, I don't know, like I spend most of my time just at the business building or when I
do it's just here at the library and I feel like enough resources, like say if I needed something that
there's always someone to help me. ⏫ ⏫ ⤪
S1: OK. And so there's the CRC, right? What are other programs or services that you feel really
do as a Latino, right? Low income male that can help you?
S2: That can help? Well, apart from financial aid. Um, and the, uh, the CRC.
S1: OK.
S2: Um, off the top of my head I can't necessarily like
S1: Think of any others. OK, that's OK. I think I can, I, I feel like even the LBSA for example,
that hits at like the Latino, right?
S2: Oh, yeah...
S1: Um, but that's just my observation. Have you been involved in campus events or activities
outside of your classroom?
S2: Oh yeah. Many of them.
S1: Which ones or how have you been involved?
S2: Like what kind of activities?
S1: So we have talked about like clubs and we've talked about academics, we've talked about
resources. Maybe you find yourself going to like the events that are on campus, whether it's
plays or um, like workshops for career development, anything like that. Even like spring concert
that just passed? You go to the events on campus?
S2: Yeah, I try to attend. Most ASI events like when they have Taco Tuesdays and the spring
concert. And I also, um, I have participated in some of the health workshops and also the career
workshops as well.
LOW INCOME STUDENTS OF COLOR 40

S1: All right. And so do you feel like your identities right and we right now are talking only
about Latino, um, low income male. Right? But you may have other identities, um, outside of
that and some people it can be like their religion, their sexual orientation, it could be disabilities,
it could be like a, uh, ethnicity, right. A bunch of other different things. Do you feel like you are
represented on this campus? Like those identities are represented here? If so, how or where or
why?
S2: Well there's always like the day of the dead. ⏫ ⏫ ⤪
S1: Okay.
S2: And like on the posters it's like black culture [as an example], like throughout the year there's
always like stuff like that where you feel like they do embrace like the diversity too on campus.
⏫ ⏫ ⤪
S1: OK. And you feel that for yourself, you're being embraced in these different events or posters
or things on campus. And then so do you believe that like these identities have played a role in
your overall college experience?
S2: Yeah. Can you elaborate on that?
S1: So do you feel like, right, um, like I said, there's all these identities that you could have but
we're focusing on male, Latino, student of color. And so do you feel like being those things has
affected your college experience?
S2: “I want to say like [my identities have] pushed me because there's a stigma. It's stigmatized.
So you want to push yourself forward in order to prove that wrong. ⏫ ⏫ ⤪
S1: Where does, what is the stigma and where does it come from?
S2: Well, it mostly comes from online, like you come across videos of people harassing specific
groups of people. So I feel like I am in a position where I'm responsible to prove that wrong and
make something good in this [low-income Latino] image that I'm holding. ⏫ ⏫ ⤪
S1: Is that image the Latino image? Is it the male image? Is it like the low income image or a
combination combination?
S2: Yeah.
S1: OK. Of all of those things and showing that Latino males or low income, that they can
succeed too? Is that what?
S2: Yeah.
S1: Do you feel like there's other obstacles outside of your financial issues related to your
education?
S2: Not that I've experienced personally, but I know like they say like I'm like I came across a
study that said, um, that there was this guy who used um, a generic, like um Hispanic name and
he kept up uploading his resume as a company.
S1: That's the one where he changed his name to John or something?
S2: Yeah. And then that's when he started receiving all these calls. But I personally haven't
experienced or haven't experienced like attack anywhere.
S1: Like in your classes or nothing like that. Are you afraid to experience that once you start
applying to jobs?
S2: No...
S1: So if you could create your own program on campus to serve the needs of low income
students of color, what would that program look like? What services do you think like this
population really needs?
S2: It's not necessarily what they need I feel like it's more on how they get to those resources. ⏫

LOW INCOME STUDENTS OF COLOR 41

S1: OK.
S2: Because like all the resources...the help that I need...it's there. It's dependent on myself
making the effort to reach out and utilize them.
S1: Yeah. When you say the resources that you could need, what are those resources?
S2: It was just like, like financial, like group support, like in those moments where like you do
feel like, like, like you're attacked, you have a group or a safe spot to go to like the CRC.
S1: Yeah. Do you feel like, so you feel like all those needs could be met if you tried to go to the
CRC and apply for financial aid? Right. Do you think that low income students need a place like
the CRC? Do you feel like, um, low income students of color need a, not a space, an office or do
you think it's OK that there's the ones that are already exist?
S2: That's not necessarily that like low-income students need a place to go to. Um, because I feel
like, like we're at a college campus where you're here to get educated...So I feel like if I were to
come like all raggedy, like maybe I'll get like a couple of, glances, but sitting next to someone in
class, like I wouldn't feel like I shouldn't be there based off my income because like they say it's
an equal opportunity campus. 🔺🔺
S1: Yeah. OK, that's really good. Um, there are already places to do those things. Um, it's just
about the student, like looking for them? Um, can I ask you what are your leading like
motivations for pursuing your degree?
S2: Yeah. It's just more based off my personal background because I do have a family that
immigrated from Mexico. So they came from nothing and like yes, they were able to buy a house
but to this day they're not financially stable. And there are times like during 2008 [financial
crisis] when they almost lost their house, my dad bounce from job to job...So I want that stability
because I know what it's like to feel that second hand, of course. I feel like that's what has pushed
me to get to where I want to be. 🔺🔺 ⧪ ⧪
S1: So being able to get a degree means making money so that you can provide that support for
you and for them. Is that what I'm hearing you say? Yeah, like you want to be able to live a
stable, financially stable life and you know, have money to do these things and have a stable
house, but you also want to help them. So that they don't have to, you know, your dad doesn't
have to be constantly working on until, you know. Um, yeah. OK. That is that the only like
biggest motivation. Is there any other? It's OK if there isn't, ⧪ ⧪
S2: What's also... like degree-wise it like, it's more, it's also more of like job security. For
example, in construction they get injured versus like where I have a degree I have a valuable skill
to contribute. It won't be that easy to be replaced.
S1: Yeah. In a few years they're still gonna need someone to do their finances?
S2: Yeah. Like on the personal side where like, of course I do want to have like a family and also
support my parents down the line.
S1: That's your motivation. That's really good. And so this is the very last question. Um, what
else do you feel is important for me to know about you or your experience at cal state Fullerton
as a low income student of color?
S2: Um, Yes, of course there has been drawbacks, but because of that it made me want to go out
and obtain those resources in the school and community. They do offer a lot of great resources
for students and most people don't take advantage of it. Because like when like for example, like
I've applied to various scholarships and a smile and for the people who apply and so the chance
of, of um, being awarded that scholarship are pretty high because people don't make the effort to
actually go out and take advantage of those resources. So my overall experience experience here,
uh, I want to say it's been great. I've been trying to take a lot of help and resources that have
LOW INCOME STUDENTS OF COLOR 42

supported me throughout these past three years and I have obtained me. I'm a career to follow up
on. So overall I wanna say that this school has treated me good. 🔺🔺⧪ ⧪
S1: Yeah, that's good. Do you feel like, you know, you went to a community college, you went to
citrus right after you graduated high school. At that time, do you think that you were as
resourceful as you know now you're able to go look for scholarships, go talk to the people to get
the help, right. You know, there's resources... at that age did you know or were you like that?
S2: When I first started, like when I first entered, like I was 18, so I was still trying to like find
out what's what, like no one else in my family went to colleges. So it was just stuff I was learning
by myself. So it took a while. But once, once I started looking like I started like obtaining
information from that resource, they were able to like the room to another resource and so on. So
I feel like it was just initially getting started to become resourceful. ⧪ ⧪
LOW INCOME STUDENTS OF COLOR 43

Appendix D

Interview Transcription - Alyeska Gutierrez

Interviewer: Researcher

Interviewee: Participant

Interview Setting: Interview conducted in study room of library. The interview was conducted
at 1:40 PM on Wednesday afternoon.

(Start of Interview)

Interviewer: So we are just going to begin with some demographic questions. So what are your
gender pronouns?

Interviewee: He, his, and him

Interviewer: And how old are you?

Interviewee: I am currently 20

Interviewer: And what race(s)/ethnicity(ies) do you identify with?

Interviewee: Latino/Mexican

Interviewer: And How many years or semesters have you been attending Cal State Fullerton?
Interviewee: After this I'll be a fourth year so 3rd year

Interviewer: What have been your living arrangements while a student at Cal State Fullerton?

Interviewee: Ughm, as descriptive as you want or how descriptive do you want?

Interviewer: So are you a commuter? Do you live around the area? What's your living situation?

Interviewee: Currently, I am a commuter. I was raised here in Fullerton. Yeah, I live with my
parents currently. Yeah.

Interviewer: Okay, yeah

Interviewee: More description? Or is that? Just let me know.

Interviewer: Yeah, that's fine. Is it because it's just close or financial reasons?

Interviewee: It's a lot of financial reasons, we are currently living with our uncles and aunts. So
it's like a big bundle of us in like one little home. Financially I couldn't afford another school.
LOW INCOME STUDENTS OF COLOR 44

Especially Cal State Fullerton gave me a full ride. So it was more economically smart to come
here. Especially with like the programs they have here are well known and they're equally
matched to like a private or UC

Interviewer: Have you been employed full-time or part-time while in college?

Interviewee: Ughm, I actually got my first job this summer that just passed part time there; And
then I'm also involved a lot in school. So I count those as my jobs because I do like plan big
events here and then I also help with spring concert as the ASI vice chair. So yeah I would like
to say yea..anything else?

Interviewer: Okay thank you And then you said you were involved?

Interviewee: So for ASI I'm part of the productions teams so my job is to highlight the union
and all it's programs like creating multiple events. And then I was also vice chair for spring
concert so I was the right hand individual for the coordinator this year

Interviewer: Thank you. Do you or did you receive financial aid? If yes, how has this financial
support changed over time?

Interviewee: Ughm, because I am a Dreamer I do not get federal assistance; I get the dream act
assistance and that has helped me tremendously with like avoiding books, programs and things
that I did not anticipate coming to college. I did know but I did not know how much it would
take up of my budget. So it helped me in that perspective.

Interviewer: Thank you. Do you feel your financial situation has had any impact on your
college experience? If so, please describe the impact.

Interviewee: Impact wise. Let me think about this one. I feel like I have not done the traditional
college life because of financial stuff and I knew that coming in here. And I knew since I was a
little kid that I was not going to go to a big big university, but in my eyes Fullerton is considered
a big university with all of its stuff. Sorry, can you repeat the question I just got lost

Interviewer: No you're okay. Do you feel your financial situation has had any impact on your
college experience? If so, please describe the impact.

Interviewee: That also comes a lot with I'm always here on campus. So I have to make sure that
I'm maintaining myself mentally and physically. So a lot of it comes with like me focusing on
making sure where programs are going to have food. Scheduling when I'm going to have food
throughout the week and if I go home that day early go home and eat at home. And because I
also suffer from mental issues so I use a lot of the programs here like CAPS and like things I
can't afford outside of school. So I have to wait like around 3 weeks per sessions to make sure
I'm up to par mentally. I have used it before. I used it last year with like 2 week sessions. This
year because I feel like I'm there's more stability I haven't used 3 weeks. Ughm, but yeah I
don't… I feel like…overall my overall experience did it has been effected probably just I'm not
LOW INCOME STUDENTS OF COLOR 45

the normal college student. Like Party every night and that sort of deal because I love Netflix.
*laughs*

Interviewer: Okay, thank you. Please describe your college transition to Cal State Fullerton.
Did you enroll following high school graduation, transfer from a community college, or take
some time off?

Interviewee: Ughm, my relationship with Cal State Fullerton went all the way to my junior year.
I was taking college level classes in high school. And when it came around to applying I looked
at Cal State Fullerton as one of my schools that if I got into I might as well go for it. I got
accepted to like other schools like USC and all that but financially I could not afford it. So I
needed to come here. So yeah that's kind of my relationship that has been with Cal State
Fullerton. I applied here. I've known about the school since I was like in second grade. Cause
Living in Fullerton you're kind of groomed to follow a certain path.

Interviewer: Thank you. How would you describe your experience at Cal State Fullerton thus
far, including academics and extracurricular activities?

Interviewee: Can you repeat the first portion?

Interviewer: So how would you describe your experience at Cal State Fullerton thus far,
including academics and extracurricular activities?

Interviewee: Academically I am excelling. I am very proud of that. Just cause I've always been a
time management type of person like I know when I need to take breaks. I know what I can
handle just cause all my studies I've done prior. Academically, I would say I'm in a good range
because right now I am currently on dean's list so hopefully I graduate with that. And then
extracurricular wise, ASI has taught me so much with like how they run because in reality ASI
Productions is a real productions company so just me being a part of it has shown me, because I
am headed to like the music industry, has shown me how to contact vendors, how to make
contracts themselves, what it takes to put on a big show. So in retrospect, my experience here has
been great. Just personal stuff would've got in the way, like my mental health issues that I talked
about before but even then Cal State Fullerton has helped me with the CAPS program on
campus. Yeah
.
Interviewer: Thank you. What campus resources have you used, if any?

Interviewee: *laughs* CAPS. Other resources I think would be. I don't think other resources.
Like the health center would primarily be the one I've used a lot of. The SRC has also kind of
been what I've used because I am a dancer as well. So I like using the dance room from time to
time. Ughm, other resources would be like they have this thing called titan bites so they’ll text
you when foods available. So that.I think that would be kind of it. Also the tutoring center and
the Mihaylo career center. I just used that for my internship. Ughm, the internship center. I think
that's it.
LOW INCOME STUDENTS OF COLOR 46

Interviewer: Ughm, Are there programs here at CSUF that you feel best serve your needs? If
so, please describe.

Interviewee: Which ones are the best ones?

Interviewee: Which ones you think serve your needs the best.

Interviewee: Ughm, I think is ASI considered a service?

Interviewer: Which one?

Interviewee: ASI. Cause I don't think it is. It's a separate entity.

Interviewer: Yeah, I'm not sure about that to be honest.

Interviewee: Well, if they were they would help me a lot career wise. I think they’ve groomed
me to the point where I can go to the music industry knowing I can dominate. CAPS would be
another major one because I continuously use that one and I continuously reference people to
that if they do feel down. That would be another best one that I've seen being utilized. Yeah I
think that would be it.

Interviewer: Do you feel your identities are represented on campus? Why or why not?

Interviewee: Coming from a Latino perspective I am saying sometimes there is points where we
should be highlighting it more. Just cause our campus is majority Latino. And so I think that
question is in a gray area zone because yes there are points where yeah it is being very
represented. But there are points where I don’t really see a lot of pride coming from other
students on campus just cause maybe we are a commuter school you know? Maybe that comes
into effect. I feel like a Latino yea. LGBTQ wise I don’t see a lot of representation. Ughm, we do
have a resource center there but I don’t know what that is used for. And there is not way of really
finding out because I feel like they have enclosed themselves. But yeah LGBTQ wise I don't see
myself represented. As a Dreamer, I haven't really used the resources on campus because same
thing I don't know what's there for me. Where as like I have I found out other services that are
actually out there providing information. Does that answer?

Interviewer: I have a question. Have you ever used the Dreamer Center on campus?

Interviewee: I went there once to find out what they can provide but they gave me a lot of
vague answers. I did not know if there are meetings every week where we can talk about stuff…
outreach, all that stuff. I've gone to it but I don't really know what that resource center is for to be
quite honest.

Interviewer: Thank you. Do you believe your personal identities have played a role in your
overall college experience?
LOW INCOME STUDENTS OF COLOR 47

Interviewee: Tremendously because for me looking into what certain group I want to associate
with I have to know if there is going to be representation there? Is there going to be an open
door? am I going to be looked at differently? So my identities have definitely shaped how I
looked at school and how I maneuver myself until graduation.

Interviewer: Thank you. Are there obstacles, outside of financial issues, related to your
education? If so, please describe.

Interviewee: Can you repeat that?

Interviewer: Are there obstacles, outside of financial issues, related to your education? If so,
please describe.

Interviewee: I don’t really think so. There's the mental health thing but I think I'm battling it like
a boss right now so I don’t look at it like a big obstacle.

Interviewer: Thank you. If you could create your own program here on campus to serve the
needs of low-income students of color, what would that program look like?

Interviewee: I would say…ughm..it's going to be a bad example. But if you look at double AA,
alcoholics anonymous they or like with the military PTSD type of thing they have a group
where they could just sit and talk it out. I don’t see that for like LGBTQ students where we could
like remain anonymous, sit down and talk about our problems, how we feel, what we are going
through each day, cause each one of us it's a different story but it's good to know we have
resources. Same thing with like the DREAMERS. Cause I've heard other stories, I've met other
dreamers and we connect that way on a one to one conversation but it's good to have a big group
of students that are just there to hear you out that relate to you. There's sympathy in there. So I
would create a program it would be tailored to certain like not certain groups but big diversity
groups where people remain anonymous about their problems where people remain anonymous
about their situations. Where they can talk to people who are similar to them and yeah.

Interviewer: Thank you. What are your leading motivators for pursuing higher education?

Interviewer: My leading motivators…my little sister is one of them. Actually she's one of the
major ones. Just cause right now she's in junior high and she's already thinking about college. So
I want to be that great example to her. Like hey I'm a dreamer, I came here when I was a kid, I
have all these issues but I'm making it and so are you and I'm here for you. So she played a big
motivator and she continuously does. Other motivators would be my other little cousin where
she's barely learning how to talk. So I'm trying to make a future I'm proud of where I can raise
them. Because I'm always looked at like big brother at home so I have to make sure I'm up there
too. Other motivators would also be like my mother because she has encouraged me to
continuously grow myself and improve myself professionally and personally. Making sure that I
grow as an individual gather experience, and all that good stuff.

Interviewer: So do you consider your cultural expectation more than you consider income as
your motivators?
LOW INCOME STUDENTS OF COLOR 48

Interviewee: Yes and no I would like to say in the beginning of like my journey both of them
were my motivators. Right now because I have grown and made my own path and stayed away
from like a lot of those social constructs that Latinos have and my parents have continuously told
me you don’t have to think that you're all mighty like everyone else does because we do have
stereotypical mindsets in the Latino community. And my mom, and my little sister, and my little
cousins have always showed me that I don’t have to conform ands so as I grew that construct that
Latino motivator wasn't really there anymore just cause I was my own self and my own person.
So right now my motivator is not really income but this bigger picture of I want to leave
something that I'm proud of. I want to say that I've helped. I want to say that I've grown
something. I want to leave my mark in a way. But yeah that's my biggest motivator.
Economically, yeah money is nice but I don’t see it as big thing right now.

Interviewer: Thank you and this is our final question. What else do you feel it is important for
me to know about you or your experience at Cal State Fullerton?

Interviewee: Economically wise?

Interviewer: Anything that you think is relevant

Interviewee:…to the study. I feel that what I can say is that my story is different from everybody
else's. I feel like we all know that. So…. I'm trying to think. I feel like other things we could
know for the study could be, if we are looking at different programs to have on campus, making
sure that the school highlights the programs that are already set up for us. Like I've said in the
interview before, Highlight the dreamers center for more than what it is. Like I've just gotten
vague things for like honestly it could be incredible but I might now know it because it's not
highlighted. The LGBTQ Resource Center, same thing. So I think that's maybe what I could add.

Interviewer: Do you feel comfortable going into those spaces, although you said you don't think
they're serving you adequately.

Interviewee: I do have social anxiety. That’s another. So when I go in there it seems that the
program has already developed a clique per se. And they don't have open arms. So I would feel
comfortable going in there if there was a more open space because each time I have gone in there
or any single time they don’t seem open as someone would expect them to be. But at the same
time it could also be me cause I do have social anxiety so yeah.

Interviewer: Thank you so that concludes our interview.


LOW INCOME STUDENTS OF COLOR 49

Appendix E

Interview Transcription – Eric Klein

What are your gender pronouns? She/her/hers

How old are you? 22

What race(s)/ethnicity(ies) do you identify with? Vietnamese American

How many years or semesters have you been attending CSUF? 4 years

I: Alright, so if we could just first start off um what are your living arrangements currently as a
student here at CSUF?

P: Um I live with my parents.

I: Okay

P. So, at home.

I: Okay. Are you pretty close or do you have to commute?

P: Umm, yeah I do have to commute it’s about, I’ll say, a twenty-five, thirty minute drive.

I: Okay. While at college have you been employed?

P: Yes. So I’m currently part time. I work two jobs on campus. I work one as a tour guide and
then the other one as a student alumni liaison.

I: Are you receiving any financial aid currently to attend?

P: Yes I am.
I: What’s, if you could elaborate on what you’re receiving, or is it just, um, are there scholarships
you are a part of?

P: Oh yeah. So I’m receiving, um, this Kingston Technology Scholarship Award. So I get that,
about, umm $5,000 a year.

I: And if you don’t feel comfortable saying the amount that’s fine, I was just wondering if there
were specific scholarships or anything like that that you were a part of.

P: Yeah there’s scholarships and then the Cal Grant.


LOW INCOME STUDENTS OF COLOR 50

I: Excellent, great. Has there been any change to that financial support as you’ve gone or has it
been pretty consistent for you throughout your career here?

P: It’s been pretty consistent actually.

I: Okay, good. That’s great to hear. So do you feel that your financial situation has had any
impact on your college experience here?

P: Umm, I think it definitely has because I don’t think I would have been afford to go to a four
year college without the financial aid [1] and especially like opportunities to get involved on
campus because some organizations require like a membership fee [2] so utilizing my financial
aid to get more involved helps and then umm being able to provide the textbooks I need to make
sure that I succeed in my classes and also like umm enhancing my college career experience,
umm for example like I got to study abroad and I think I would have not been able to do so
without the financial aid and the scholarships that I’ve had.[3]

I: Nice, where did you get to go?

P: I got to study abroad in Paris.

I: Oh, fun! Did you love it?

P: Yeah, that was my first flight and first like, I guess um, first out of the states, and yeah[4] .

I: Oh nice! So that was all your first experience in Paris?

P: Yeah, all by myself.

I: That’s crazy! Did you enjoy it?

P: Yeah, I really honestly did and I’m actually happy that I went out of my comfort zone to try
that experience.

I: Good. So that wasn’t something you were too comfortable with before?

P: Yeah, because I wasn’t sure if I could afford it because I always hear that it’s really expensive.
Um but when I went to seek out resources, um especially knowing that my financial aid could
also help cover it, it made it more like doable for me[5] .

I: Great. That’s awesome. So you talked a little bit about the support that you have here on
campus. What are some of those campus resources you’re able to use?

P: Yeah, so um one of them is definitely like my work environment. So with like Outreach,
Recruitment, and Orientation they’ve like helped me a lot like mentoring and guiding me like
what to do because I’m a first generation college student so I don’t know like much so it’s really
nice to have that support and my supervisor is mentoring like me and then um, the NASPA
LOW INCOME STUDENTS OF COLOR 51

Undergraduate Fellows Program has also mentored me like, learning more about higher
education and connecting me with folks so just getting that welcome and like um environment
that I didn’t have here on campus when I was looking for it.

I: That’s great, great to hear. So do you feel that the support you are receiving is adequate or are
any areas that you wish you had more of…or?

P: I think the support I’ve had is definitely what I’ve been looking for and I’m really happy that
it’s what I’ve been kind of like struggling with my transition coming in and now that I’ve found
my place here it’s like really nice. It feels like home to me[7] .

I: Awesome. Was it difficult to find that support? Or were there people reaching out to you, or
how did that go about finding what you needed?

P: Yeah, so when I came in, I was actually one of the recipients for the Abrego Future Scholars.
So there’s like a program implemented with that scholarship where they gave us a faculty mentor
and then a peer mentor. So having those mentors they helped me like, um become more
knowledgeable about the campus[8] and then I took the initiative where I like decided to like go
out of my comfort zone and go look for those resources and then talk to like people and ask them
questions about it.

I: Excellent, that’s awesome! So that transition um are you, did you come straight from high
school going into your undergrad?

P: Mm hmm, yeah.

I: Excellent. So, how was, I know you were a first generation, how was that transition coming
from high school to college?

P: I’ll admit, it was actually kind of hard because um I actually um decided to live on campus. So
not knowing anyone coming to this campus and by myself and living on campus like was being
more independent, [9] so I’ll admit I did struggle the first few weeks because I wasn’t sure if
maybe college was for me[10] because um coming to this college campus is like very diverse so
I was kind of in a culture shock too.

I: I bet.

P: And just meeting different students from different backgrounds, I wasn’t sure like if I fit in
here. But then later on like, with a lot of programming events that the Future Scholars like had
for us, it kind of made me feel like more um welcome that I felt belong here and then just joining
on campus really helped me feel connected more.

I: Excellent, that’s great. So how would you describe your experience here on CSUF, like your
academics, your extracurricular activities, um what are some of the things you are involved in
here.
LOW INCOME STUDENTS OF COLOR 52

P: Um, so I think it’s really funny how I came as a freshman not doing much but now like ending
my senior year, I’ve done like a lot.

I: It’s been a huge, huge uptick.

P: Yeah, yeah it’s crazy! I’m like involved with like tours, and like um the Alumni Association,
and then like NUF I’m involved with. Um Allied Health Academy, um which is like a first gen
like program to help students get into grad school. And then, um I’m also a part of like the Allied
Health Student Association and then ASI.

I: You’ve got a lot going on!

P: Yeah, I’m yeah I’m pretty busy!

I: That’s awesome!

P: But yeah, it’s been like honestly like a really great like way for me to feel more connected on
campus and I’m actually happy I decided to get involved because I think that if I didn’t get
involved it would definitely not make my experience as like enjoyable as it is now.[11] [12]

I: Absolutely, do you think if you weren’t to have gotten involved do you think you would have
persisted all the way to your senior year?

P: I honestly don’t think I would have because I remember the kinda the first month of my
freshman year, like I wasn’t involved in anything and I didn’t felt connected and so I feel like if I
didn’t join or get um like get involved in someway, I think that I honestly might have dropped
out because at that time I also was thinking like maybe [13] I don’t belong here because I was
just like overwhelmed with like everything that was like you know first time for me and I didn’t
know who to seek and ask for.

I: Absolutely. Well I’m glad you were able to find those resources, it sounds like it has been great
for you.

P: Mm hmm.

I: Do you feel that your, the identities that you have as an individual are represented pretty well
on this campus?

P: Umm, I would say, I would honestly think so because I’ve gone to a lot of like conferences
and I’ve met a lot of undergraduate students who share their experiences of being at like
predominantly white institutions and when they share their stories, it’s like wow I’ve heard about
it but to hear a student share about it it’s like really eye opening for me because I’ve never felt
the lack of diversity here on our campus and I guess like when you don’t have that diversity then
you start to realize and kind of appreciate what you have and so for me it’s like wow like I’m
really grateful um to be at an institutional that’s very well diverse and very like accepting to you
at the same time.
LOW INCOME STUDENTS OF COLOR 53

I: Good, so it’s not just about the diversity, you feel accepted for who you are on this campus?

P: Yeah, mm hmm.

I: That’s great, that is great. Umm, do you feel that those identities have played a role in your
experience? Do you think maybe they’ve affected what you got involved in or do you think they
had any role in your experience?

P: Mmm, I think it has definitely helped me understand more about myself, because in high
school I really wasn’t embracing my identity or culture. Umm because part of it was like umm
into this like not being yourself I guess and in college it’s a little bit different because you get to
express and in like people are more umm wanting to stand out versus blending in.

I: Absolutely

P: And so um, I think that, I feel like it definitely did played a huge role um and definitely um
being to understand like how even though I’m different I can still work along with other
community members.

I: Absolutely, that’s great. So, what do you, what do you think there, there is about this campus
that allowed you to feel that comfort to be yourself. Do you think, was it someone you found or
umm a place that you felt comfortable with, if you could elaborate on that a little bit.

P: Umm, I would definitely say the mentors[14] .


I: Okay

P: Umm especially for those that kind of share like the same cultural values or background. I feel
that when I express my personal stories or like, um yeah when I express my stories or feelings
they understand where I’m coming from and so I feel like we have this connection where they’re
able to understand how I feel and how to approach it versus someone that probably doesn’t know
much about my culture and they’re like well I don’t get it like what’s so important about that. So
definitely my mentors who’ve definitely helped me really understand and navigate my identity
here on campus.

I: Excellent, and they share some of your identities as well, some of your mentors?

P: Yeah, mm hmm.

I: Great, that’s awesome. How about any obstacles that you’ve, it seems like you’ve had a pretty
positive, I don’t want to put words in your mouth, but it seems like you’ve had a pretty positive
experience here. Umm, are there any obstacles that you’ve faced while you’ve been going
through this college experience?

P: Umm, well for me I think I’m still learning how to navigate it. [15] I’m not struggling as
much as I did before but like I guess like what to do after graduation. I feel like I don’t have
LOW INCOME STUDENTS OF COLOR 54

really the skill set or like the knowledge like what to do next because like for me growing up I
hear a lot about students completing their degrees in four years but when I come into campus it’s
more tradition like five or six. And then sometimes I hear like yeah like students go straight from
undergrad to grad school, but now I’m hearing that that’s not the truth there’s some where
students take a year off and go to work and things like that. [16] So for me it’s like, I’m not too
sure if there’s a thing as a right answer because I’ve grown up to know oh that’s the right answer,
that’s what you’re going to do afterwards because growing up I just know that after elementary
it’s middle school, high school, and then it’s like now what’s next? So that’s just one thing I feel
like I’m currently facing is like what to do next?

I: What’s that next step?

P: Yeah, and I’m not too sure like who to ask because like most of like first gen like umm folks
that I know go they usually go from undergrad to grad school so it makes me feel a little bit
uneasy like I don’t know what to do like no one really understands where I’m coming from or
what’s going to happen to me. So yeah, it’s just that one.

I: Gotcha. If you had the power to create your own program on campus to serve the needs of low
income students of color, what would that program look like?

P: Hmmm, that’s a very good question.

I: It doesn’t have to be specifics, maybe just things that you wish you would have had when you
were going through this experience, or maybe things that you really did like and you would want
more of, anything like that?

P: I think maybe like I guess, a mentorship program or maybe like an unofficial like EOP club if
that makes sense because I actually I did try to apply for EOP because I was a part of TRIO in
high school and so my advisor told me that my likelihood of getting into EOP here at Cal State
Fullerton was really high since you know I was already qualified for TRIO in high school so it
should work out in college but unfortunately for me it didn’t work out. They told me I was [17]
over qualified which I wasn’t, I didn’t understand at the time and my advisor didn’t understand
either. She just told me, you know, don’t give up just find a different program that can help find
your needs and what not. So, that’s what I would suggest because I don’t know if any other
students were affected by that. I’m not too sure if there was like a maximum amount of students
they could accept and maybe the other students who do qualify, were just maybe they thought
they could find resources on their own and other students needed extra guidance. So, maybe an
unofficial like EOP program for other students like me.

I: Okay, that didn’t, maybe those, umm whatever those requirements were weren’t as so strict
where.

P: Yeah.

I: It would allow for more students.


LOW INCOME STUDENTS OF COLOR 55

P: Yeah, just so it would help the transition a lot better.

I: Gotcha, absolutely.What were some of your leading motivators for pursuing higher education?

P: Umm, I would definitely say umm my family[18] . Just being the first gen, umm just wanting
to um, kind of give back to my parents since they’ve came a long way since they’ve from
immigrating from Vietnam. Just wanting to show them their sacrifices were worth it. Umm
definitely having to be financially independent. The career [19] umm and just being able to have
like the dream career where I don’t feel like I’m working, where I’m just living my life. If that
makes sense because I hear people say like they do their job but they hate it but I want to do a
job where I feel like I’m not working but , you know I get paid to do it

I: Absolutely! Have you thought about what you’re wanting to do in the future?

P: Umm I’ve definitely in the mix between higher ed and public health. Because I’m a health
science major but just been my past years here at Cal State Fullerton I’ve been so involved with
like orientation, tours, umm and outreach that I feel like higher ed might be for me too as well
because I enjoy it as well so that’s where I’m trying to solidify like where my heart is geared
towards more.

I: Umm, just to wrap up, is there anything else that you feel is important for me to know about
your experience here at CSUF?

P: Hmm, no not that I can think of.

I: Do you feel that your financial situation or your cultural identity had a large impact on your
college experience?

P: Oh, I would definitely say yeah.

I: Yeah, it would?

P: A huge impact.
LOW INCOME STUDENTS OF COLOR 56

Appendix F

Interview Transcription – Cheyanne Ramon

Cheyanne (interviewer) and Ana (interviewee’s alias)

C: Okay, alright, thank you again, I know I’ve said this a lot but I am so grateful that you were
able to make it today
A: Yeah
C: Our questions are regarding the college experience of low-income students of color, so just a
bit of demographics, what are your preferred gender pronouns?
A: She/her/hers
C: Okay, I want to make sure I refer to you as the right ones, and how old are you?
A: 22
C: And what races or ethnicities do you identify with?
A: Mexican American
C: And how long have you been attending Cal State Fullerton?
A: I am a transfer student so two years.
C: Transfer student. [1] Two years. And where did you transfer from?
A: Santa Ana College (Pause for notes)
C: So what are your living arrangements like as a student here? Do you commute? Do you-
A: Yeah, I commute. I live with my parents
C: And did you go or do you live around Santa Ana?
A: Aha
C: Okay so it isn’t too bad of a commute
A: (Light chuckle) yeah, well I take the bus though[2]
C: Oh okay
A: So I don’t drive
C: And that saves you a lot of money (light laughter), so okay, so have you worked at any point
in college?
A: Ah yes. while I was at SAC I was working at the library, the Santa Ana Public Library for a
little bit and once I transferred here I start working at Panda Express[3]
C: And were those full-time? Part-time positions?
A: part time.
C: part time.
A: mhm.
C: Like roughly how many hours?
A: right now I am working 20 hours a week but it’s only weekends
C: oh wow, that’s good. And what are your reasons for seeking employment? Is it extra money?
Or just love working? I don’t know.
A: (Light laughter) yeah, because I started working when I was fifteen, and I guess I never really
liked to ask my parents for money because I mean it’s three of us and I feel like I am more
conscious of about what I ask for and I don't want to come take money away from them that
they [4] can’t really provide for me so I’d rather work and have my own money and that way I
can like buy my books without feeling bad how expensive they are
C: so going off of that, do you receive financial aid?
LOW INCOME STUDENTS OF COLOR 57

A: mhmm, yeah Ido.


C: and has that helped pay for books?
A: Yeah, yeah cause if I didn’t receive financial aid I probably wouldn’t be able to go to school
C: and has your financial support like the aid, has it changed year to year or has it been
consistent?
A: it’s been a little bit consistent, Ithink this year I got a bit more than I did last year cause last
year it covered my tuition and then a little bit but this time it was a little bit more than what my
tuition cost so lets say tuition was 6 thousand and they gave me 11 thousand [5]
C: okay
A: so I had plenty to like spend for books or anything like that
C: And do you feel your financial situation has any impact on your college experience, you
described that if you didn’t have the financial aid you wouldn’t go to school so[6]
A: Yeah so yeah I wouldn’t be able to, like my parents wouldn’t be able to contribute
significantly and for me it’s really hard to balance work and school so that’s why I need, that’s
why I go to school weekdays and work weekends cause mixing them all together I don't think I
would[7] succeed
C: did you do the same thing while you were at the community college?
A: for the community college it, at the library it was a lot less hours. so I was able to balance it
a little bit more, i, it was like two to three, two to three to four hours, maybe five max shifts and
it was , maybe two or three times a week. So it was like 12 to 16 hours a week so it wasn’t as
bad. But at panda its more stressful (small laugh) and its but yeah, I don’t know if that answers
C: yeah, No it does. Are you in your last year? How much long do you have left?
A: Yeah, I have one more year here,
C: okay
A: before I graduate and them yeah I’ve been saving up since I first got my first job so around
15 so now I have enough money for grad school
C: oh okay, where do you want to go to grad school? Or what do you want to do?
A: I'm going to do social work. So I was thinking ideally it would be long beach because they
have really good programs over there and maybe cal state la or cal state Fullerton, but [8] I'm
really looking forward to Long Beach.
C: great. And is Grad school, like expensive or
A: I imagine that it is and I've heard,I had a friend who applied to long beach and he said that
over there they, they don't really help you out as much financially wise and you have to like kind
of like seek your own ways of contributing to your tuition.
C: Do you imagine working while going to Grad school also? [9]
A: Probably, yeah. I was just thinking just in case.
C: so you mentioned that you were a transfer student. Um, how was that transition from
community college to here? Was it different? Was it hard or challenging?
A: It wasn't so much like challenging for like classes, it was more because I live in Santa Ana in
Santa Ana, it's a very dominated like Latino community. And coming over here it was really hard
to find people that looked like me or that shared my culture. It was a bit intimidating. So yeah, I
would just go to school, drive back home, go to school, go back home. And I didn't really like
engage with on campus until I started. I seeked out Hermanas Unidas, the Latinx organization for
women. And so I, since I got into that, then I started branching out more on campus than being
more involved. I think that really helped out. [10]
LOW INCOME STUDENTS OF COLOR 58

C: So I think you mentioned that you, you were part of a group. I don't want to butcher the name
so I’m not going to try (light laughter from both). But like what else have you used to maybe get
involved or is that like your primary source of extracurricular activities?
A: Yeah well the shortened name for it is HAU
C: HAU? Okay.
A: So yeah. So yeah. Um, but there, I took on a leadership role and through that leadership role
I[11] am campus liaison right now so I have to sit on to general councils one being so Copratida
which is I guess all the Latinx organizations then I also have to sit on ICA which is the
association for Intercultural Awareness. I get to talk with clubs from other ethnicities. So that's
how I kinda like got to know that and got to know the positions on ICA in the roles on MESA
too. So yeah.
C: So long have you been a part of? Um, I'm sorry, I'm like really blanking on all the names I
don’t want to mess them up. But how long have you been involved with the group?
A: HAU? About a year because my first year I didn't join because I was still like intimidated and
I didn't know what it was. And then I think my second. You're, then I tried it out and I really did
like it. So since last year. This year. So two years. [12]
C: And how did you find it again?
A: At Discoverfest, I would like always like see it every time during Discoverfest but I don’t
know, I didn’t want to jump in yet.
C: Where you a part of anything like that at the community college?
A: No, I don't think there were like many clubs there or they didn't really promote them as much
as they do over here. So I didn't really get involved in that. I got involved in , the drama
department over there cause I was in a theater in high school so I did a little bit of theater in. I'm
at sac but I didn't really pursue it here.
C: Then I'm going off of that. Are there any programs here that serve your needs? Like with like
financial or academic, do you utilize any of the centers?
A: The only one that I go to is the Chicano Resource Center, a lot of our members go there so we
go there and study and sometimes they feed as well. [13]
C: That's good.
A: Yeah.
C: And then how did you find that? Was it through the HAU?
A: Yeah.
C: sorry, like you've already answered a lot of these your answers, so that’s great, Um, you
mentioned that you didn't feel maybe connected to the university at first because there weren’t
people that looked like you. Do you feel better about that now with your organizations?
A: Yeah, because I dunno, I guess it's kinda hidden on the sequel and reach out for it and I mean
as a new student that can always be hard, especially if you're not really social or you're just
timid. So yeah, it really did help introduce me to like a lot of people and then I felt like OK, I do
belong here.
C: Do you think like as a suggestion, maybe they should have like a discover fest at orientation
or how do you think students can find it easier?
A: I, yeah, I think that would be great. at orientation, they don't really bring any of that up and
it's not until like discover fest comes up and you're like, OK, all these other orgs right here. But
then again, it's like they're all spread out and what have you don't know, like what have you just
like are walking in one direction in, you know, the, the clubs that you're seeking for over here,
but you don't, you don't know about it.
LOW INCOME STUDENTS OF COLOR 59

C: All right. Um, do you believe your personal identities have played a role in your overall
college experience?
A: I think so. Um, because I mean, first of all, even applying to college I didn't really know. It
was all[14] kind of like I relied heavily on our counselors to help us at applications. Same thing
with FAFSA. Even now I, I have not sure still filling it out correctly and I'm just, I mean
especially like being like first gen, first generation student, it's all kind of like, finding out how to
do it all on your own first and then you know, like giving that information to your brothers, your
sisters or anyone else that's coming along. But yeah, it was a little hard. But for me it was kinda
like any programs that I found out about I would apply to them all and hopefully get into one of
them and that's like what happened at sac. I got into EOPS and they helped me plan my
education plan in order to transfer because I think if I hadn't joined them I probably would have
still been at SAC for a little longer.
C: Did they reach out to you or how did you find it?
A: Um, I think it was through orientation, like, oh, like a handful of programs came in and I just
grabbed the flyers from all of them and apply all them in. Like EOPS was the only one to reach
back to me. So that's how I joined.
C: Are you part of a similar program here?
A: No, I’m not. I think here it’s different or I don't know,I didn't, I didn't get into.
C: Do you think it would have helped you like to have a program similar to EOPS here?
A: yeah because it really helped me over there and I mean, I know there's like advisors and that
helped out too, but before then it's like what classes do I take? What to prepare, you know, what
are my options? Things like that. And over there they help you with your textbooks too, or your
bus pass either or in here it's like you're on your own here. [15]
C: So they helped with like academics helping you get into classes and what classes you needed
and then they helped financially? Okay I wonder if we have anything here. I'm sorry. I'm like
new to this campus too, I wish I could tell you what programs to go to, but I’m still learning. so
outside of like the financial issues are there any other obstacles like you mentioned balancing
work are there any other things that have like, like affected your college experience?
A: so think, maybe just like test taking strategies or studying because I think barely now and
really starting to get the hang of it. And how do you do well on tests. Before it was kind of like, I
don't know, I would try and see what happens but now I feel more confident in my test taking
strategies and how to study for it. [16]
C: So like maybe workshops or presentation? maybe offering those in like centers or like your
clubs would be helpful? (nods) yeah, so I things I could do later [in my position] to offer. So if
you could create your own program, you mentioned like your own organization and being part of
EOPS have been really beneficial to you. Um, if you could create one, what, what would it look
like?
A: I would probably want to create like a networking program where students can be matched
up by either major careers or both. So that way they can have students where they can like take
classes together or if they're like different majors but striving towards the same career. It's like
different paths. OK, how are you trying to get there? And then kind of bounce ideas off of that
C: and so it's kind of similar to a mentor program?
A: Yeah but instead it would be like a, I guess a larger group of people so that, that way I don't
know, maybe they have more like, more resources rather than just one person.
C: All right. Thank you. And then I only have a couple more questions. Um, so what were your,
what was your motivation for going to college?
LOW INCOME STUDENTS OF COLOR 60

A: My parents are janitors and they've always emphasized going to having an education,
pursuing higher ed and they've always kind of used themselves in it as an example.What happens
when you don't go to school? And I'm like, my dad, he would never really have us do chores
because he would rather have us do homework. And he was like, since grade school in[17]
Grade School, I never had to do any chores at home because I guess my, my focus was to study,
go to school in all of that. So I think my parents played a big factor in it.
C: And. Sorry, did you say you have any siblings?
A: I have a younger sister that I think we're a year apart and then my younger brother were at
five years.

C: And are they on similar paths? Like going to college?


A: Right now My sister, she's at sac but she's only part time. And then my brother, he's a senior
in, I don't know, I don't know what his plans are. Sorry. But yeah, he's, he sounds a little not so
sure.
C: So as first gen and then helping your siblings figure it out. Like you're kind of their role
model[18] ?
A: Like I tried to, I got the best as I can, like I mean for FAFSA I helped them out like my sister
or if they tell me like what they want to do, I tell them about like, oh well you can study this or
that. So just like basic things like that.
C: So would you recommend like the EOPS?
A: Yeah, my sister got into a EOPS because I mean cause I told her about it.
C: And then, so just kind of the last summary question is, is there anything like we didn't go over,
, or anything else you want to tell me? I know we went through this pretty quickly, but I don't
know if I missed anything else or any ideas.
A: Oh, I don’t know (light laugh).
LOW INCOME STUDENTS OF COLOR 61

Appendix G

Interview Transcription – Micaiah Satterwhite

Speaker 2: 00:01 I always eat, while I talk.

Speaker 1: 00:07 And your name is Taylor? last name?

Speaker 2: 00:07 Saucedo

Speaker 1: 00:07 Is it oK if I record?

Speaker 1: 00:07 Yes its all right.

Speaker 1: 00:17 So just a few questions. So just answering however you


feel. Um, we'll start with what are your gender pronouns? are already known them, it just for the
record

Speaker 2: 00:23 Gender pronouns. Are She, her, hers.

Speaker 1: 00:25 And um, how old are you?

Speaker 2: 00:25 Im Twenty three.

Speaker 1: 00:31 What's your race or ethnicity?

Speaker 2: 00:35 I am Mexican, half Mexican and half Okinawan which is


part of Japan .So half Japanese.

Speaker 3: 00:43 OK.

Speaker 2: 00:48 It's like when someone says they're Hawaiian, but they're
American. Its part of America, but it's a very specific culture of that country

Speaker 1: 00:48 So, how many semesters have you been attending CSUF?

Speaker 2: 01:00 Um, I came, I graduated in 2013, so 2013 and I graduated


this past fall. So how many semesters is that? You're actually not a current student right now? Im
not a student, im a program assistant. So I am pro staff

Speaker 1: 01:29 so what are your living arrangements?

Speaker 2: 01:33 My first year I commuted from Covina, um, which is about
20 something miles away on paper, but it's like over an hour in traffic. And then, uh, that was my
freshman year and then I was able to get an apartment near campus. Um, my sophomore, junior,
senior year
LOW INCOME STUDENTS OF COLOR 62

Speaker 3: 01:59 and then that's, yeah.

Speaker 1: 02:08 Where are you employed? Full time or part time while in
College ?

Speaker 2: 02:12 part time. So my first year here I was working like three
jobs in Covina though. And then um, I was involved a lot on campus but I wasn't working on
campus so I was working part time at three different places my first year and then my second
year, um, I got a leadership position and they gave me a scholarship or stipend or whatever that
is. And so I got a stipend through ASI and then I didn't really, I didn't really work because I got
financial aid and um, my scholarship through ASI,

Speaker 1: 02:50 it was the next question

Speaker 2: 02:52 I've had my whole entire time here. I've had financial aid
pretty much had the full package.

Speaker 1: 03:01 Has the financial aid change increase or decrease


throughout different periods?

Speaker 2: 03:06 I think it decreased if im not mistaken, and when I started


cuz I became an independent. No, I think, I think I noticed a change, but I think it was across the
board. It wasn't necessarily something specific to me. I think the funding changed, but for me
personally I don't think that makes sense. And then I took out more loans as I got or because I
didn't take out. I only use grants my first year, second year, and then my third year, fourth year I
took I took out a loan along with my grants, so that's the only thing that changed, that I noticed.
But then the tuition increased. So I think that was the change.

Speaker 3: 04:02 OK.

Speaker 1: 04:02 Do you feel your financial situation has had any impact on
your college experience? If so, please describe the impact?

Speaker 2: 04:19 Yeah, so actually I got into UCI and I couldn't afford it so I
ended up coming here and I was really pissed off at first because I was like that student who I
worked really hard in high school and I was. I guess I just thought that I was going to get into a,
UC.I guess I underestimated cal states in high school and then I got to cal state fullerton and it
was so close to my house that I wasn't really too happy about it. But then I ended up loving it,
but it was because I couldn't really afford to go to the UC and then me being on financial aid, I
didn't, it was just a culture shock having to manage like a short amount, like a big thing of money
and make it last and I didn't really didn't have time to have a, another job. And then um, so I'm
just managing my money. That was a big culture shock that I had to go through. And then, um, I
didn't necessarily have enough money for emergency so when I crashed my car I had to take out
a loan and then in my school, my high school and nobody ever really taught us anything about
managing financial aid or money either.
LOW INCOME STUDENTS OF COLOR 63

Speaker 2: 05:41 just little things like that that I didn't really know about
until it happened already.

Speaker 1: 06:05 Can you follow up, more on your college transition to cal
state Fullerton and then, um, did you enroll like right after high school graduation or did you. I
know you did, but if you could just talk about that. So you just came right from school?

Speaker 2: 06:13 I came right from high school, so I came right from high
school and I um, yeah, I applied for financial aid right away.

Speaker 3: 06:25 Yeah.

Speaker 1: 06:29 How would you describe your experience at cal state,
including academics and extracurricular activities?

Speaker 2: 06:36 Um, the extracurricular activities or the reason why I loved
it so much. And then in terms of..... I hated commuting, cause I, I felt like I was missing out on a
lot of things by commuting. I was so involved in high school, but coming to college and having
to go home really quickly right after class, like just go to class and leave was really hard for me.
Um, and I felt like I was just, I've never really just gone to class and left. I would stay after
school, but I couldn't do that my first year. Um, and then it wasn't until, but all my jobs were at
home, so it wasn't until I got the scholarship through ASI that I started to enjoy college a lot
more because then I was able to actually live out here and I didn't have to work those other jobs
anymore. I could just, like being involved was my job, which was nice because I got paid to do
the things that I wanted to do on campus and then um, the rest of my financial aid was able to
cover my expenses living off campus.

Speaker 1: 07:56 What campus resources did you use other than a ASI?

Speaker 2: 08:01 ASI, I was an orientation leader so I used a lot of the um,
those resources that the orientation leaders get. I guess they have connections to different
academic advisors and information about a lot of things on campus or use a cultural center. So
the diversity initiatives and resource centers, the gym, I use the gym. I didn't have a laptop for a
while. So the computer lab, I'm trying to think of other resources,

Speaker 2: 08:44 free printing and college park because I didn't want to pay
for printing . I use a lot of, like the career center resources in terms of like helping me with my
resumes and cover letters. I use the tax resources. So the students who do your taxes for you so
you don't have to your taxes. Yeah. So they taught me how to like manage my taxes and then the
financial aid office I like went over there a lot.

Speaker 1: 09:28 So any programs at Cal state fullerton that you feel best
served your needs.

Speaker 2: 09:31 programs like events?


LOW INCOME STUDENTS OF COLOR 64

Speaker 1: 09:31 In general any type of programming or resources or


anything that best served you?

Speaker 2: 09:39 OK. I would say diversity initiatives, resource centers, not
just because it was my job because I ended up working here my last two years of college. But
even before that, like they just provided a space, um, that led me to my career path I guess you
could say. And it was a space where people have really hard conversations and I didn't get that a
lot in my classrooms and it was just a, it was, um, I don't know, it was a place where people
understood how I felt being a person of color and a mixed identity, things like that. They were
just very open to identities in those centers. So I think that DIRC was really a place that like I
could go to for a lot of things and they just had a lot of resources.

Speaker 1: 09:39 Have you been involved in campus activities or any sort of
programs outside the classroom?

Speaker 2: 10:37 Yeah, I was involved in the whole day in the Asian Pacific
American Resource Center I was a student assistant here. I was an orientation leader. I was in the
entertainment and tourism club. I was an ASI and AICA. The Association for Intercultural
Awareness and I was. What else? Oh, was in the spring concert to. So I helped plan the spend
concert.

Speaker 3: 11:07 I'm trying to think what else. I know

Speaker 2: 11:12 I did Calm week. Wait, that's a class, but it's like a club
event planning class. So. But yeah, I was involved in those things.

Speaker 1: 11:22 Do you feel like your identities are represented here?

Speaker 2: 11:25 Not really. I'm mixed and nobody knows what Okinawa is.
Even though I'm Japanese, like I'm kind of the most unconventional. I guess I'm the most
unconventional traits of both of my cultures.

Speaker 1: 11:25 Spell Okinawa

Speaker 2: 11:46 o, k I n a w A. Yeah. And so, um, basically like in Mexico,


so my family is very like white passing and colored eyes. And then on my Okinawa side we
have really thick hair and darker skin. And in Japan, so we're kind of like ostracize except used
as like a tourist attraction because we're the tropical island. Um, and so I mean I don't really talk
about out too much because nobody ever knows about it, so I've always conformed to just like
Japanese and like it wasn't until working at the center is where I started owning my culture back
again. Um, and then my Mexican culture and my dad's from Texas, my family's from Texas, the
Mexican side and their race to their own, I guess culture too. And so coming onto campus, I
never chose to go to the Chicano resource center because they didn't talk about anything about
being not fully Mexican is what people usually say. Like if you weren't Mexican enough and feel
like I belonged there. So even though it was my culture is represented, my experiences within my
LOW INCOME STUDENTS OF COLOR 65

culture weren't necessarily represented. And so same with here, that Asian Pacific American
Resource Center, like my culture, the Japanese culture is represented but not fully. And my
experiences within my culture aren't necessarily represented either. Does that make sense

Speaker 1: 11:46 Ok.. so is Okinawa Hawaiian or Japanese?

speaker 2 : 13:22 Japenese, But I compare it to Hawaii because Hawaii, it's


like the thing that people compare it to is the Hawaii of Japan, so they have their own culture
and they look different and it's the tropical island that people go to for vacations. So Japan is like
a chain of islands and then really far down there's like a tiny, tiny little dot and that's Okinawa.
And it was taken over by Japan and then taken over by the US and then give them back to Japan
and the US kept their military base there. So it's like this like really peaceful country that was
colonized. Kinda like how Hawaii was too, with States, and they have their own language too
language but they all speak Japanese. So it's the best I can compare it to. Is Hawaii

Speaker 1: 14:19 Do you believe your personal identities have played a role
in your overall college experience?

Speaker 2 : 14:22 Especially being mixed and like white passing. I'm able to
like with the work that I like to, that I do, I'm able to go into spaces and people open up more
about let's say if I go, in ASI predominantly white. And if people are complaining about certain
identity groups on campus, they feel more comfortable complaining about it to me because they
don't feel like, like I'm going to judge them for it until I say something. So it gives me a chance
to hear the other side and people feel comfortable telling me until I like talking to them, they
realize that I'm Japanese or they realize I'm Mexican and then it's different. But I, I just, I'm
thinking of like in the past there was a group on campus that like appropriated Mexican culture.

Speaker 2: 15:16 I don't know. How long have you been on campus here?
Not Very Long right? . A soritity already, um, had a taco Tuesday and they dressed up as like
cholos and Cholas and like just like how did huge event about it was a recruiting event and I was
in the cultural club at the time and so they would come and like be like, oh I don't know why it's
a big deal, blah blah. And they would talk about it in front of me. But then once they found out I
was Mexican, they kind of like stopped. So I have like, use that in a way to like talk to people in
that understand what they're thinking more in a more like I guess honest kind of way. And then I
like my opinion after it's been, it's, it's helped a lot and I feel like a lot of people don't have that
privilege to just walk into the space and kind of blend in here. I do.

Speaker 1: 16:06 Were there any obstacles outside of your financial issues ,
they're related to your education that hindered you?

Speaker 2: 16:13 outside of financial issues?

Speaker 1: 16:13 yea,


LOW INCOME STUDENTS OF COLOR 66

Speaker 2: 16:18 I would say I kind of went through an identity crisis


through college. I felt like I had never owned up my culture until college where I saw a lot of
other people were and I just didn't know my culture and I still kind of don't fully know it. And so
I felt like that was a big thing for me is just like owning my culture again and learning about it
and going over that identity crisis and I under I started understanding why I did certain things or
like how I like navigated through certain spaces because of my culture

Speaker 1: 16:59 If you could create your own program here. That serviced
the needs of low income students of color what would that program look like.

speaker 2 : 17:05 That's a good question. I feel like there's just not a lot to
talk about being mixed. And there was one panel that I went served on recently about mixed
identity, ethnic and racial and just kind of like helping students navigate that identity being are
low income and multi-racial, multi-ethnic and how it factors into things because there was a lot
of things that when I got to college that I realized like how racists one side of my family was to
the other and things that I just ignored because I was growing up, you know? And so it has a lot
to do with people's independence in how they are when they come into college. And so it also
just like fighting to different, really opposing cultures was hard for people and it's not easy for
people to understand. And so I think kind of having that conversation and understanding how to
explain that to people.

Speaker 1: 18:06 What are your leading motivators to pursue Higher


Education?

Speaker 2: 18:13 I, what I actually what I want to do, I want to do like


learning and development in, in entertainment spaces, but also corporate spaces, so work that
like DIRC does, um, the, the, these centers do, but bring it into places that, that don't normally
prioritize it, if that makes sense.

Speaker 1: 18:36 Before, before you came to college you were thinking that

Speaker 2: 18:40 I guess not, no. Well, so I guess

Speaker 1: 18:44 what was your leading motivated to come to college?

Speaker 2: 18:49 Um, it was just because I was told to. I really like to learn
the big. Mostly it because like I would if I didn't go to college and I wouldn't get a job that I
wouldn't do the things that I needed to do to get money. And it was just kind of like the next step
that I had to do. Then I just like, I really do like to learn and I like taking ownership of education,
but I would say that the biggest thing is just because I was told to.

Speaker 1: 19:39 Is there anything else you would like me to know just for
reporting services about anything more. What I'm trying to get to the bottom of is, financial
burdens of students and then just ways you could do better about it or their, their um, their own
personal goals and just different deterrents that like what keeps for, for success. Was there
anything else?
LOW INCOME STUDENTS OF COLOR 67

Speaker 2: 20:02 OK. I guess based on what I said, is there anything that
would keep you from effectively making that report?

Speaker 1: 20:11 No, I think that's pretty good . I mean it's pretty good.

Speaker 2: 20:17 I don't know. I feel like there are things but it's, I feel like
it's too much of a tangent. Like, so things that like kinda would keep me from being successful
being like a person of color and low income. Yeah. I just think that um, well especially in
California, I'm just people not are they kind of ignore the fact that there's a lot more to work on
and that have a long way to go. They think that because we're so diverse in that we're a Hispanic
serving institution, we don't need to care about Hispanic serving problems. You know what I
mean? I think that teaching people the difference between like predominantly white spaces that
are functioning in white ways versus that are actually dominated by white students because a lot
of arguments I get is like, oh, there's a lot of Hispanics at cal state fullerton. Like what else do
you have to complain about? So like we have like the ARC, so why do people want to complain?
And it's like trying to explain the difference between .....how we operate in a, in a white way.
Um, yeah. So thats basically it. I think that keeps a lot of students from speaking, especially in
California, it's like you have what you need, why do you complain? So people don't really think
that like racism doesn't exist and that like I hear that all the time in different student groups. So
yeah,

Speaker 1: 20:17 Alright so thats it.

Speaker 2: 20:17 This is cool that y'all are doing this.


LOW INCOME STUDENTS OF COLOR 68

Appendix H

Cover Sheet for Interview Notes – Michelle Schwartz

Time: Place:
Tuesday, April 5, 2018, 12:30pm CSU Library, 4 Floor, Private Study Room
th

I. Key Points/Stories
- Student had a difficult first two years on campus
- Student is first-gen, and first of siblings to go to college as well
- Student has had to prioritize work over school many times
- Student has gained a lot from professor interactions

II. Coding System


a. Help at High School Level (pink)
b. Financial (green)
c. Work / School Balance (blue)
d. Parent/Family Involvement (orange)
e. Sense of belonging (purple)
f. Importance of Culture / Self Identity (red)

Interview Transcription – Michelle Schwartz

Michelle (interviewer) and Carmen (interviewee’s chosen name/alias)

M: We are going to start with some demographic questions. So, what are your gender pronouns?

C: Um, she, her, hers.

M. And how old are you?

C: I will be 21 on the 29 of this month.


th

M: Wonderful, well happy early birthday!

C: Thank you (small laugh).

M: What races or ethnicities do you identify with?

C: Well, um, I identify as latinx, um, specifically Mexican. Um, I don’t say Mexican-American
because although I was mostly raised here, I do identify a lot with my Mexican roots and I was
born in Mexico as well.

M: Thank you. And how many years or semesters have you been attending Cal. State Fullerton?
LOW INCOME STUDENTS OF COLOR 69

C: Well this is my third year.

M: And what have been your living arrangements while you’ve been a student here at campus?
Do you commute? Do you live off campus?

C: Well my first year I lived off campus, um, with three roommates, but we were all in a one-
bedroom apartment, and then, uh, I didn’t like living there anymore, so then I started commuting
um and I used to commute from Temecula, and I did that for sophomore year and up to last
month. And now I live behind campus. My dad’s been commuting [from Temecula] to
Huntington Beach for over 25 years.

M: While here, in college, have you been employed full-time or part-time?

C: Um, well, my freshmen year until the beginning of my junior year I was at Stater Brothers,
um, for, yeah for that time, and it was part-time, but I would get like 35-40, so, it wasn’t really
part-time. Um, and then right now I do work on campus, at the Chicano/Chicana Resource
Center, and I also work as an AVID tutor at my old high school.

M: Do you or did you receive financial aid, for here on campus?

C: I do, I do receive financial aid, um, I think it’s grants and just like the general stuff.

M: Great, and um, has it been consistent the whole time, or has it changed with the amount or
frequency?

C: Uh, I’m pretty sure it’s been consistent. I just know my sophomore year, another reason why I
moved back was because it did get cut because there was an issue with it, but once I fixed that,
um, I was able to get it, whatever I needed for tuition.

M: Oh, that’s good.

C: Yeah.

M: So, um, do you feel your financial situation has had any impact on your college experience?

C: Uh definitely. Um, like I said, that experience with my financial aid, um, because I didn’t
have to worry about school, I was able to work to pay for living expenses here in Fullerton, but
once that got cut I did have to pay for the fall semester of my sophomore year, and that was all
my savings, so I had to go back home and then just start my savings all over again. That
definitely – although I did get financial aid left over, um, there were certain things, like I would
always want to move back just because I knew how easy it was and it allowed me to use the
resources on campus a lot better because of scheduling, um, and just because I knew, like, I quit
Stater Brothers in august of last year, and I wasn’t sure if I would be able to move back and
afford living here or not, um, but, I was able to find nice roommates and a cheap apartment, so.
LOW INCOME STUDENTS OF COLOR 70

M: Thank you. Please describe your college transition to Cal. State Fullerton – and that basically
means, did you come right from high school, or were you a transfer student?

C: Um, yeah, I came right out of high school, um, and it was a difficult transition. Um, being
first-generation and the first one specifically from my family to go to college, uh, no one really
knew what I was doing. Um, everything – I really depended on the AVID program at my high
school to walk me through everything, as well as other, like, friends that I knew that had gone to
college. Um, but most of it was on my own, researching, um, figuring out what had to call
financial aid or um, academics, uh, that’s pretty much it.

M: Great, thank you. So, how would you describe your experience at Cal. State Fullerton so far,
including your academic experiences and also extracurricular activities or things to do on
campus?

C: Ok. Um, well, now I would say it’s a lot better. My first two years were not the best, um, just
because, like I said, I worked a lot, um, to maintain my living expenses, that I would focus more
on my job and making sure I had enough hours to pay for rent, then I would on my academics.
So, for example, um, instead of – also since I was a first-gen living out here, like by myself away
from my family, I didn’t have a lot of friends on campus and I’ve never been, like, the most
social person unless someone approached me, um, so, I would definitely depend my co-workers
to have that social life. I didn’t bond too much with my roommates, but, um, that would mean I
would hang out at work a lot more than I would at school, I wouldn’t focus on my homework as
much, um, I kind of – my academic life kind of revolved around my work life. Um, and then that
took a toll on my GPA, and I didn’t get involved in, um, any extracurricular activities on campus,
um, until I switched my major – I was KNES, now I’m American Studies, um, and then I
realized that what I wanted to do – I want to be a professor down the line – and that requires a lot
of extracurricular stuff, research, um, connections with professors, and stuff. So, I realized I had
to start doing something. So I started going to more office hours, speaking to my professors, um,
and then, this summer between my sophomore and junior year I was able to obtain an internship
on campus at the Chicano/Chicana Resource Center, then I got hired this spring, um, as a student
lead, and, um, I joined an organization, Hermanos Unidos, and I’ve kind of just built on from
that, um, I put – I realized that I was focusing on my work more my first two years, during the
summer, so, like, yeah – so before like this entire year started. Um, and I knew I had to leave that
job, because it was really toxic, um, and I just – there was a lot of emotional labor in that job. I
was a supervisor at 19, and I wasn’t getting compensated for that, um, so I knew I couldn’t do it
anymore, and that wasn’t for me, so I decided to leave. And now I work on campus, um, I’m in
an organization, and I have good connections with my professors, um, a lot of them are helping
me look at grad school programs and stuff like that.

M: Wonderful.

C: Yeah. And I didn’t think I could make, like, an influence on campus, but in my organization,
also with other friends that, um, have kind of been with me since my first two years – yeah, it’s
mostly been one friend – um, she realized my growth, and she said, “wow, you know, you went
from this to doing all these things now” – and even though it’s mostly like two things, I can still
– I have other people coming to me to network, um, like for ASI elections, someone asked me if
LOW INCOME STUDENTS OF COLOR 71

I could just share a platform or something, or let people know like ‘hey, you know, I’m running’
– and for me, it took me by surprise because I didn’t think I have that much influence on campus
but, I guess other people think I do, so yeah.

M: That’s amazing.

C: Yeah. It makes it a lot better and more rewarding.

M: Wonderful. So, kind of on that note, what campus resources have you used, if any?

C: Um, definitely financial aid, um, academic advising, um, I’ve gone to the career center for
internships and other, like, uh, job fairs for teaching. Um… what else have I done? Oh, yeah, the
Chicano/Chicana Resource Center – so the whole DIRC [diversity initiatives resource centers]
department, um, I’ve really been involved with that. Uh, yeah, just, my own department as well,
the American Studies department, they have a lot of, um, just like resources and research
opportunities for us, you know, programs, um, for grad schools – that’s been really nice.

M: Great.

C: And I’m really grateful for that faculty – I feel that’s the one faculty – well I mean I haven’t
been to others – but um, they just, they really care about the students in the department, um, they
see potential in the, you know, and they bring it to our attention, and that’s what one professor
did for me, um, and now, I’m in the major so (small laugh).

M: Perfect, so, um, again we kind of touched on this a little bit, but are there programs here at
Cal. State Fullerton that you feel best serve your needs?

C: Um, uh, I’m not sure. Well, um, can you, like, give an example?

M: Sure, so like um, a program that is target to you that you enjoy, such as the CRC, where you
may feel like it was made for what you need, something like that.

C: Ohh, ok. Right, ok. Uh, yeah, so like I said the DIRC department, I wasn’t in First Year
Experience or EOP, I wanted to be but my GPA wasn’t the hottest, so um, that’s kind of limited
me. Um, but I’m definitely right now looking into the McNair program, um, for research, uh,
yeah. Those are pretty much it, but I like the DIRC department, yeah.

M: Yeah, everyone in that department is pretty amazing.

C: Yeah, um, and it really resonates a lot with the stuff that I am learning, um, in my courses, so,
I can definitely apply that to what I’m working with.

M: Wonderful, thank you. Um, so, have you been involved in campus events or activities outside
of the classroom?
LOW INCOME STUDENTS OF COLOR 72

C: Um yes, uh, for the CRC we had, um, a ‘So Yo’ festival, basically meaning ‘I Am Me,’ um, it
was kind of just embracing, like, Latinx roots and tradition, culture, um, and it was really nice,
uh, we had a lot of students go to that. Um, I did go to that teaching job fair that the career center
had going on, um, that definitely helped me network, um, I got an internship opportunity too, for
San Jose, at a school up there, so, that was nice. Um, but that’s like post credential (small laugh).
Um, yeah I think that’s about it – there’s other things I’ve wanted to go to, um, some of my
professors host like walking tours in LA, and we’ve done that a couple times.

M: Oh, that’s cool.

C: Yeah.

M: And do you feel like anything had stopped you from becoming involved, or from going to an
event you wanted to go to, or a program you wanted to join?

C: Um, yeah, sometimes, um, uh, going back to the First Year Experience thing, um, it’s
intimidating to go somewhere where you don’t really know, for example, the culture or, um, the
expectations. So, like, at the job fair, um, I walked in and there was like people with leather
portfolios and in suits and they had like credentials and everything, and I was kind of just like
this undergrad with a flimsy plastic folder and I had like my little resume, um, and everyone just
seemed like they knew what they were going in for, and talking to who and what, um, and I just
kind of wanted to see what school districts were out there, because I was – since I work at a high
school, I was thinking maybe I can do, um, high school teaching for a while, and then move up
to upper – higher education. And um, that was really intimidating for me, I wasn’t prepared, um,
for that kind of setting, but fortunately I was able to speak to someone that was really impressed
that I was an undergrad in a job fair, um, so, that was nice. Uh, there’s been – so, for the
American Studies Student Association, um, sometimes I don’t feel comfortable, just because,
um, my major, well my department is predominantly white, and, um, I work at the
Chicano/Chicana Resource Center, and there’s just – sometimes there’s cultural, um, things. Also
language too, um, I’m still building up my vocabulary, and although compared to my family, I’m
very advanced, but with my classmates, sometimes I’m like ‘Is that English, like, what did you
just say?’ – Um, so sometimes those things, uh, do hold me back a bit. Um, uh, and I see elitist
culture in some areas so it’s a bit intimidating.

M: Thank you. And then, how you feel – or, sorry, do you feel that your identities are
represented on campus?

C: Um, yes. I do see it in, um, most faculty, um, but there’s some that I don’t – well, but I mean I
haven’t explored those areas, so like business majors, um, I know there’s a different identity
there, um, and the more like ethic studies I do see it, um, but like I said, in my major there’s only
one professor that I know – and she’s only half Mexican – but that still helps a lot, because she
sees a lot of the cultural things, um, that holds me back, and I was actually talking to her
yesterday about grad school and what I was afraid of, and she went through the same kind of
fears, so she definitely encouraged me to, you know, pursue it.

M: How nice that you have made that connection and can share some of the same experiences.
LOW INCOME STUDENTS OF COLOR 73

C: Yeah, definitely.

M: Perfect. So, do you believe your personal identities have played a role in your overall college
experience?

C: Yeah. Um, definitely. Um, are you aware about intersectionality?

M: Yes.

C: Ok, yeah, so going back to that, um, being a woman of color, being first generation, um, I’m a
naturalized citizen, so I still identify a lot with the undocumented community, just because I went
through the same fears growing up, um, so that, like – seeing the movement, fighting for DACA
[deferred action for childhood arrivals] and a clean Dream Act, definitely resonated a lot with
me. Uh, yeah, just, being a woman of color, sometimes feeling like you’re not heard because of
male classmates just dominating conversation. Um, professors too, uh, I had a professor for my
Business and Professional Ethics class, and he would never call on any female students. Um, he
had, like, his favorite boys to pick, so I was just like, ok that’s really sad that I still see that here.
And especially for an ethics class.

M: Yeah, definitely.

C: Yeah.

M: Alright, so we are down to our last four questions here. Do you feel like you have any
obstacles, outside of financial obstacles, that, um, are related to your education?

C: Um, I think definitely, um, sometimes my family. My mom is very, uh, traditional Catholic
mother, um, so, when - she didn’t like that I moved back out here, um, so that, and then she
doesn’t like it when – I don’t know, she - she worries for me, and I understand because she’s my
mom, but sometimes I feel like she doesn’t understand why I do what I do. Um, so, once I quit
Stater Brothers - and both of my jobs end this summer- so now I’m kind of like looking for
another job, um, and I’ve kind of always wanted to work as a barista, just because I enjoy coffee,
um, and I told my mom that and she was just like ‘no, like, you’re not going back down to that’ –
and it’s just things, um, where if she sees me progressing, it’s like, for her I can’t take a step
back, because it’s just me not moving forward. And I get it, but at the same time, I still have
time, and also the pressure to finish in four years, um, I will be finishing in four years, but I still
have to take a lot of classes, um, and rebuilding my GPA from my first two years, um, yeah.

M: Where are you feeling that pressure to graduate in four years – is it from your family, or from
the University, or where do you think?

C: Oh, I would say more of a family pressure. The University, if anything, this university is
telling me you don’t necessarily have to finish in four years. A lot of my friends and classmates
are like ‘oh, I’m fifth year,’ ‘oh, I took time off,’ um, so, they, you know, kind of just take things
are their own pace. But for my parents, um, they’ve never experienced any of us going to
LOW INCOME STUDENTS OF COLOR 74

university, and they always heard ‘graduate in four years, so why aren’t you getting it done in
four years, you should be doing it.’ Um, and I’ve always done well in school, through
kindergarten and high school, and I think for them, like, I didn’t tell them about my low GPA
because I knew, like, if I did, they would start to worry, um, and stuff, so. There’s some things
from my academics I definitely hide from my parents, just so that they don’t see, um, those kind
of things, but, um, yeah, I think that would pretty much be it. Um, yeah. I was going to say
connections, but, I, I have a pretty good connective group, connection and network on campus.

M: Good. Thank you. So, if you could create your own program here on campus to serve the
needs of low-income students of color, what might that program look like?

C: Oh, that’s a good question. Um, I don’t know. I think I would definitely have a program
where we could invite family members, um, just because I feel like you can say it to the student,
but, at the end of the day, the student’s just another, um, you know, they’re a child, you know,
they’re someone’s children, and there’s always that, like, age, um, complexity, so. When I say
something to my parents, it’s like they don’t necessarily hear it because it’s not coming from a
professional, or something. Um, I know we did Welcome to Cal. State Fullerton Day, but either
everything was mostly in English, and my mom – my mom was kind of just like, she was just
looking at the campus, um, but as far as programs and stuff, she never – she didn’t know
financial aid, I had to do everything, so. If there was a program to like break-down, you know, all
these things for student, um, before they come in, and their parents as well, that – I think that
would be really cool.

M: Parents and students learning more together, I think that’s a great idea.

C: Thank you (small laugh).

M: Of course. So, you kind of touched on it a bit, but what are your leading motivators for
pursuing higher education?

C: Um, just, I would say, some professors that I have, um, spoken to, and definitely my own
experience, um, just being first-generation, I know there’s multiple students out there like me
that definitely need, uh, someone to help out – sorry, I’m getting emotional (tears welled up) –

M: It’s fine, no worries

C: Um, but yeah, uh, just because – even working at the high school, I see students that feel
discriminated, uh, a lot of the high school teachers, um, aren’t representative of the diversity, so,
I’m always there to, like, speak to them, and let them know (tears welled up). Sorry.

M: You’re fine, not a worry. Thank you for sharing.

C: Thanks.

M: When you are ready, my last question is, is there anything else that you think is important for
me to know about your experience here at Cal State Fullerton?
LOW INCOME STUDENTS OF COLOR 75

C: Um, uh, I don’t know. Uh, I think I’ve already said most of it, um, if there was anything bad I
kind of just learned to forget about it, and just move forward, yeah, I think that’s about it.

M: Perfect, thank you.

C: Thank you.